Revealed: NASCAR’s Le Mans Challenger

Cars, News I By Justin Cornelison I February 20, 2023
NASCAR Le Mans

The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Le Mans challenger, which will make a special entry into the 100th-anniversary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was unveiled in full colors over the weekend during the Daytona 500.  The livery, which features a dominant bright blue with contrasting gold accents and an American flag design up front, was created in collaboration with NASCAR, Chevrolet, Goodyear, and Hendrick Motorsports.

The car, which will compete at Le Mans as a designated class of one in the June 10-11 endurance event, has undergone extensive development and testing since its launch last March at Sebring International Raceway.  The team behind the project includes three co-drivers: Jenson Button, Jimmie Johnson, and Mike Rockenfeller, whose names arc across the top of the driver-door window.  They were officially added to the Garage 56 personnel roster on January 28 during IMSA’s Rolex 24 weekend at Daytona.

NASCAR Le Mans

The car’s specifications are based on the Next Gen vehicle that races in the NASCAR Cup Series, and it weighs 2,960 pounds, which is significantly less than the 3,485 pounds of the current Cup Series racer.  Chad Knaus, Hendrick VP of competition, said the target horsepower figure for the car is rated in the “high seven hundreds.”  The G56 entry also carries project-specific Goodyear Eagle racing tires and special aerodynamic devices, including dive planes, a more robust front splitter, and rear diffuser.

According to Knaus, trimming weight from the car was a cumulative effect of measures taken from top to bottom.  He added that with a full fuel load, the car weighs in near the 3,250-pound range.  The car is equipped with composite disc brakes, and the wheels are lighter than what the NASCAR Cup wheel is.  Five Star stepped up to get them lighter body panels, which have helped to reduce the car’s overall weight.

The next step in the testing comes after yesterday’s Daytona 500, with the Garage 56 team loading in for two days at Sebring.  The test car made extended on-track stints during the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 sessions at Daytona, but this week’s plan is a first go at a 24-hour run.  Hendrick said, “It’s been a major undertaking, but I’m really proud of it, and it’s gonna be fun to watch it over there.  I’m gonna be nervous; we’ve got to run 24 hours, but I’m super excited.”

The car is an exciting addition to the Le Mans field, and it is sure to impress the European audience with the NASCAR community’s capabilities.  With the extensive development and testing that has gone into this project, the team behind the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 is looking forward to a successful run at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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