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