NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports announced on Thursday that they intend to run a prototype Next-Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in collaboration with Chevrolet, IMSA and Goodyear in the 2023 LeMans 24 Hours as part of the Garage 56 effort.
Speaking about the news, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France said:
“From the early days of NASCAR, it was important to my father that we played a visible role in international motorsports, and there is no bigger stage than the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “In partnering with Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, we have the winningest team, manufacturer and tire in NASCAR history. We look forward to showcasing the technology in the Next Gen car and putting forward a competitive entry in the historic race.”
Hendrick Motorsports are the most successful team in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and so far this season, they have taken two victories in the opening four races of the season. Hendrick Motorsports seven-time champion engineer, Chad Knaus will serve as Garage 56 manager.
Speaking about today’s announcement, team owner Rick Hendrick said:
Participating in one of the truly iconic events in auto racing and representing NASCAR and Chevrolet on the world stage is a privilege. “Jim deserves tremendous credit for having the vision for the project, and we thank him for trusting our organization with the responsibility. Even though Garage 56 is a ‘class of one,’ we are competitors and have every intention of putting a bold product on the racetrack for the fans at Le Mans. It’s a humbling opportunity – one that will present an exciting challenge over the next 15 months – but our team is ready.”
Jim Campbell, Vice President, Chevrolet Performance and Motorsports said:
“NASCAR is going back to Le Mans! Chevrolet is looking forward to being a key partner with NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports and Goodyear in this historic Garage 56 effort. “While many know us as the winningest manufacturer in NASCAR, we also have had great success with our Corvette Racing program at Le Mans, with eight class wins in 21 starts since 2000. At Chevrolet, we love to compete and we can’t wait to get started on this program.”
Stu Grant, General Manager of Global Race Tires of Goodyear commented saying:
“Goodyear has proudly produced tires for NASCAR for more than 60 years, and we look forward to taking our innovation to the next level at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “In addition to Goodyear’s presence at Le Mans on the LMP2 class vehicles, being involved in this historic race as part of the Garage 56 entry is yet another demonstration of our commitment to advancing racing tire technology.”
Bill France first brought stock cars to Le Mans on June 12, 1976, after reaching a deal with the event’s organizers. Two NASCAR race cars – a Dodge Charger owned and driven by Hershel McGriff, and a Junie Donlavey-owned Ford Torino driven by Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson – competed in a newly created Grand International class.
Pierre Fillon, president of l’Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), the organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans commented saying:
“Garage 56 is a special opportunity at Le Mans since this race has been a leader in technological process for the auto industry over its nearly century long existence. “When the ACO receives an application for a Garage 56 program, we begin by talking with designers, team partners and suppliers in order to set performance parameters such that the program can be successful for everyone involved. We will continue to work with NASCAR and all their partners as they work toward their proposed 2023 Garage 56 project.”