Infineon gets WTCC race next year
WTCC RACING ACTION features real production cars like the Spanish SEAT, the German BMW, the American Chevrolet Cruze and the Swedish Volvo.
WTCC.com/Special to the Index-Tribune
Outside the world of NASCAR - which means just about every country except the United States - if you're talking about stock car racing, you're talking about a circuit called the WTCC - the World Touring Car Championship.
The irony is that, while NASCAR is an acronym meaning the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, there is absolutely nothing stock about NASCAR vehicles except the nameplates on the hood. Regardless of the brand, the cars are purpose-built from the ground up for racing, according to a precise set of NASCAR-required measurements and specifications.
Not so for the FIA-sanctioned WTCC, which uses cars that actually began life on a standard assembly line, even though they are heavily modified for racing. Now, if the deal gets final approval from the FIA (the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile), which sanctions the race series, the first WTCC race in America will be held at Infineon Raceway next year.
As the premier stock-car racing series outside the United States, WTCC features recognizable cars from BMW, Chevrolet, SEAT and Volvo. The series competes in 12 different countries, including China, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Japan and Macau in 2011, and attracts 40 million television viewers globally for each of its races.
"Bringing the championship to the U.S. was the next item on our agenda and the last one to fulfill our aim for a really global calendar," said WTCC promoter Marcello Lotti. "So far we have worked to establish our European and South American events, reinforce our presence in Asia and return to Morocco. Now we feel that the time has come to expand to the U.S. market that is a priority for our manufacturers and stakeholders. Infineon Raceway is a modern racetrack with impressive facilities, and I believe it is the ideal location to host a WTCC event."
Steve Page, president and general manager of Infineon Raceway, expressed excitement about hosting the first-ever WTCC event in the United States. He met with Lotti last week in Sonoma.
"The WTCC offers the kind of door-to-door, hard-fought competition that American racing fans really respond to and we're very excited about the opportunity to introduce this series to the North American continent," said Page. "The Infineon Raceway road course is an ideal circuit for these cars and we look forward to introducing Sonoma-style racing to a world-wide audience."
Today, the WTCC is considered the third most important FIA championship after Formula One and World Rally Championship.
In other Infineon news, the North American Ferrari Challenge Series begins its 2011 season at Infineon Raceway this weekend, April 29 to May 1, returning to the Sonoma Valley for the sixth consecutive year.
The weekend will be highlighted by the North American debut of the new Ferrari 458 Challenge, the fifth and latest generation of Challenge cars. Adding to the excitement, the Corse Clienti Department's 599XX, FXX and F1 Clienti programs will also participate on track, and the Ferrari F430 Challenge will compete alongside its successor, the new Ferrari 458 Challenge.
Spectators are welcome to attend the race and enjoy an open paddock area and the Ferrari-festival atmosphere. The weekend will feature practice on Friday with qualifying and racing in all classes set for Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $20 each day or $40 for weekend pass and are available through Ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-870-RACE (7223).
Regarded as the longest-running series of its type in North America, the Ferrari Challenge Series begins its 18th season and offers Ferrari owners the opportunity to compete against each other at world-class venues throughout the United States and Canada. Complete Ferrari Challenge information can be found on www.ferrarichallenge.com.