Henri Tuomaala is not only the epitome of short answers, efficient racing and a nice mustache but also a three-time Challenger Trophy Champion. The battle in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series special classification for bronze and silver drivers in EuroNASCAR PRO was among the tightest in the 2022 NWES season but in the end it was the winningest non-professional driver in EuroNASCAR’s premier class who won his third title to set another record. The Team Bleekemolen driver from Finland took two wins in the double-point finals at Automotodrom Grobnik in Croatia to snatch victory in the Challenger Trophy.
During the 2022 NWES season, Tuomaala extended his wins counter in the special classification to 20 thanks to four race victories. It took two perfect sweeps for the Iceboys driver to grab the Trophy: he scored two wins at Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy and two more at Grobnik in Croatia. In the end, he finished tenth overall in the EuroNASCAR PRO standings with three top-10 finishes. But despite another strong season, the battle for the title was closer than ever before.
Fabrizio Armetta and Max Lanza were Tuomaala’s fiercest rivals as a group of five drivers, led by the two Italians, entered the Finals separated by just 15 points. Armetta ended up eleventh overall and second in the Challenger Trophy, just four points behind the Finn. Tuomaala had to fight for the title until the very last second and squeeze every bit out of his #23 Ford Mustang. The five-way battle was reduced to a showdown between Tuomaala and Armetta over the course of the NASCAR GP Croatia and ended up in the Finn’s favor.
The current Team Bleekemolen driver started his car racing career when he was twelve years old but had already gathered important experience in go karting, which he started at the age of six. He raced in several open wheel championships in Finland and switched to Legends Cars back in 2010. Legends Cars are the foundation for stock car racing in the United States and even on road courses, the little race cars are a great way to shape talents for a drive in the EuroNASCAR car with 400 hp and no electronic aids.
In his career, Tuomaala won four Legends Cars and one V8 Thundercars championships. The Finnish driver, who obviously considers himself as “calm” and “thoughtful”, joined EuroNASCAR in 2018 and won his maiden Challenger Trophy title in his first full-time campaign in 2019. After skipping 2020 due to the pandemic, he took back the title in 2021 and adapted more and more to EuroNASCAR’s premier division. Beside racing, Tuomaala loves driving different race cars on his simulator at home.
“The best moment in 2022 were the last three laps of the last race at Automotodrom Grobnik,” said Tuomaala about the memories he collected with the Dutch team in 2022. “There was plenty of action on every part of the track and you had to be very careful to make it to the finish line safe and clean.” Tuomaala brought home a seventh place finish, right ahead of Armetta in eighth and therefore won the Challenger Trophy title. If he would have dropped three positions back, the Challenger Trophy battle would have shifted in the favor of the Italian, such was the closeness of the battle in the final race of the season.
“It always feels good to win,” Tuomaala summed up the season in just a few words – as always. “However, I am not fully satisfied with my season because the goal was to be regularly in the top-10.” The Finn will hunt for top-10 and maybe top-5 finishes again in the 2023 season but before the first points race of the season, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will head to his home country to hold the All-Star Artic Ice Race in Rovaniemi – an event that Tuomaala will for sure enjoy. The 2023 season will kick off on May 6-7 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.