CIR­CLES...

Gets a taste of an au­then­tic stock car – and doesn’t crash Broad­en­ing the ap­peal of the Amer­i­can tin-top mon­sters

Motor Sport News - - Nascar Feature -

What do you need to run a NASCAR ex­pe­ri­ence in the UK? An­swer: some­one who’s worked in the in­dus­try for over 20 years. A per­son who lives and breaths NASCAR.

Meet Blair Dupree. He’s had over 20 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in NASCAR, start­ing with Richard Petty En­ter­prises in the early 1990s. Af­ter mov­ing up the ranks – do­ing just about ev­ery job in the process – Dupree started a rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the US and hasn’t looked back.

“I started Rusty Wal­lace Rac­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence in Cal­i­for­nia and built that driv­ing school up,” he says. “Af­ter that, I had a year off, but then started it all back up again. That’s when the econ­omy took a dump, so I had that year out then got back into it and started Rusty Wal­lace 2. I sold that com­pany three years ago.

“We’d al­ready brought it over here [to the UK]. I came over with the King [Richard Petty] and did some stuff here. Af­ter that I saw a niche in the mar­ket. These peo­ple here are petrol­heads and they love their mo­tor­sports. They’ve never seen Amer­i­can-style race cars.”

And that’s ex­actly what Dupree of­fers. Amer­i­can style race­cars. They’re au­then­tic too, the only ma­jor change on the cars is the en­gine. If you kept the Sprint Cup en­gines in the car, you’d need $150,000 [£112,500] just to buy each en­gine. Dupree’s small block Chevys of­fer sim­i­lar per­for­mance at a re­spectable re­build cost. His at­ten­tion to au­then­tic­ity is re­mark­able, fur­ther demon­strated by the use of me­chan­ics from the States.

“I fly me­chan­ics over from North Carolina,” he says. “I have a three bed­room house, they have the other two rooms. I work them to the bone as I only have them for a week or two. In Amer­ica we have 80 cars and 40 em­ploy­ees work­ing on all the ovals. It’s Amer­ica’s base.”

De­spite the costs in­volved, the com­pany is only grow­ing. ARCX has a bunch of new cars com­ing over in road course trim, to of­fer cus­tomers the au­then­tic NASCAR ex­pe­ri­ence on an oval or road course. “The new cars we have on the way; we have a #14 Tony Ste­wart race car, a Martin Truex car, and I have a Hen­drick Mo­tor­sport’s 24 Jeff Gor­don car com­ing also,” he ex­plains. “They’re all road course cars.”

With that, ex­pan­sion. De­spite the spe­cial­ist na­ture of the ex­pe­ri­ence, Dupree wants to roll it out to ma­jor cities with new cir­cuits.

“We’ve talked to Brands Hatch, Brunt­ingth­orpe and Longcross Prov­ing Ground. They’ve all said we’d love to have you,” says Dupree. “Brands Hatch is a great fit for us with the Speed­fest be­ing there. My goal is to get the peo­ple from the pop­u­lous ar­eas, Birm­ing­ham, Lon­don, Cheshire. Those ar­eas where there’s dis­pos­able in­come. We’re not a cheap sport, I’m not a $59 [£44] su­per­car ex­pe­ri­ence, I’m just not. It cost me – just to ship a car over here – around £10,000 and then another 30 per cent on top of that with VAT and duty. Tyres are £500 each. I’ve got race fuel, up­keep.” ● Driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence pack­ages range from £499 for the Pole Po­si­tion pack­age con­sist­ing of eight hot laps, to £3,699 for the ‘Ad­vanced Track Day’, which in­cludes over­tak­ing and side-by-side rac­ing in an 80-lap pro­gramme. Pas­sen­ger rides are also avail­able for £99. For more in­for­ma­tion visit arcx.co.uk.

Rob Austin won two of the three Mini Chal­lenge Cooper and S Class races, with the third fall­ing vic­tim of a se­ries of red flags.

Austin made the most of an er­ror from race leader Steve Cocker to take vic­tory in a fran­tic first race from Tim Porter. Cocker ini­tially led com­fort­ably from pole but ran wide at Clear­ways ap­proach­ing one third dis­tance. Austin then sprinted away to win by two sec­onds.

Race two never re­ally got un­der­way, with two red flags forc­ing its can­cel­la­tion. The first stop­page was caused when both Richard Mills and Stu­art Lane rolled out at Pad­dock; the sec­ond a multi-car shunt at the same cor­ner af­ter the restart, caus­ing dam­age to the in­side tyre bar­rier.

The grid re­formed for a re­run at the end of the day. Scot Adam won on the road but lost the win af­ter pass­ing Austin un­der yel­lows at the start of a safety car pe­riod, thus hand­ing Austin max­i­mum points.

Max Bladon made it 11 wins in a row this year to put him­self on the brink of the Cooper Class ti­tle. The Ex­celr8 man has yet to be beaten this year, but came close in race one when he dropped as low as fifth at the start, only to bat­tle back to beat Josh Gollin on the road. Bladon was peer­less at the front in race two, staving off Sam Weller.

De­fend­ing Mini Miglia cham­pion Kane Astin’s open­ing race lasted just two cor­ners as he and fel­low front-row starter Shayne Dee­gan took each other off at Druids, hand­ing Rob Howard the win. Ru­pert Deeth led early on be­fore Howard bril­liantly squeezed through at the half-dis­tance mark.

Dee­gan made amends in race two by tak­ing his eighth vic­tory of the sea­son in dom­i­nant fash­ion ahead of Deeth. Da­mon Astin fin­ished third while brother Kane fought through from the back of the grid to fin­ish sixth.

Guest driver Scott Ken­dall led from start to fin­ish to win the open­ing Su­per Mighty Minis race, but it was Adrian Tuck­ley who bagged max­i­mum points in sec­ond. Tuck­ley ex­tended his cham­pi­onship lead with an over­all race two win which was in­ter­rupted by a bar­rel-roll for Bob Ben­netts at Clear­ways.

In the Mini Se7ens, Welsh­man Ash­ley Davies with­stood heavy pres­sure from Max Hunter and Lewis Selby to take the spoils in race one, with the lead swap­ping sev­eral times; Hunter and Selby missed out by 0.5s. A red flag for oil on track with five min­utes re­main­ing gave Davies his sec­ond win of the week­end.

Sam Tom­lin­son avoided a fren­zied four-car bat­tle for sec­ond place to win the open­ing race of the Mighty Minis. Greg Jenk­ins pre­vailed in his epic fight with Stu­art Coombes for sec­ond. Cham­pi­onship leader Jenk­ins raced away to his sec­ond win of the sea­son ahead of Craig Pendle­bury.

Endaf Owens and Nick Swift were in a class of their own in the SU Euro Chal­lenge opener with the Welsh­man edg­ing it by just 0.068s. Barry Sime fin­ished third af­ter pole­sit­ter Ian Cur­ley’s car suf­fered a bro­ken gear­box on lap one.

Cur­ley’s car failed again in race two as Owens eased to a com­fort­able dou­ble vic­tory from Chris Mor­gan.

Swift took vic­tory in the 40-minute Mini en­durance race with co-driver Phil Am­ming, while Owens ended his week­end with sec­ond along­side Dan Wheeler.

Bill Richards took his Rover Metro to both wins in the ‘Fastest Mini in the World All­com­ers’ races.

Oliver White took vic­tory in an ul­tra-tight Cham­pion of Brands For­mula Ford race. The Van Diemen driver beat Jake Byrne’s Ray by just 0.3s.

1 Scott Ken­dall; 2 Adrian Tuck­ley +0.426s; 3 Bob Ben­netts; 4 Alex Comis; 5 Steve Maxted; 6 Steven Daw­son. FL Tuck­ley 1m00.433 (71.95mph). P Ken­dall. S 10.

1 Tuck­ley; 2 Ken­dall +0.163s; 3 Daw­son; 4 Ian Slark; 5 Comis; 6 Steven Ride­out. FL Ken­dall 1m00.249s (72.17mph). P Tuck­ley. S 8.

Our man drove Bren­dan Gaughan’s Na­tion­wide car

Swift and Am­ming head the clas­sics

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