Patrick Lemarie visited the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Victory Lane. At the age of 54, the Frenchman set a record as the oldest EuroNASCAR PRO race winner in the history of the championship. The driver of the #5 Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport car took advantage of a clash between Gianmarco Ercoli and Giorgio Maggi and then got past Nicolo Rocca on the start-finish straight to take the lead. He then defended it in the last lap of the 2022 NWES season to win a NASCAR race for the first time in his career.
After taking a long break from racing, Lemarie joined the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series back in 2020. His close friend and former Formula One Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who raced in EuroNASCAR from 2019 to 2021, persuaded the Frenchman to put the helmet back on and race in Europe’s official NASCAR Championship. “And he was right,” said Lemarie after his maiden race win at Automotodrom Grobnik at the end of the 2022 NWES season.
The team, a Monegasque and Italian joint venture led by Federico Monti (Academy Motorsport) and Alex Caffi (Alex Caffi Motorsport), had the pace to race for top-5 finishes the whole season long, but small issues with the car or the setup and bad luck held the team back. Lemarie wanted a “smooth weekend without problems” so bad and it came in the last event of the 2022 NWES season. In two days, Lemarie set two records for the history books and made his dream come true.
On Saturday, Lemarie became the oldest driver to stand on the EuroNASCAR PRO podium at the age of 54 by finishing third in the first of two finals. On Sunday, the Frenchman managed to fight with the top contender at the front again and took advantage when Ercoli and Maggi clashed in the penultimate lap of the race while battling for first. Lemarie also stormed past Rocca to lead the last lap and win the race. In capturing the win, Lemarie broke the record held by Villeneuve, who had been the oldest EuroNASCAR PRO winner since Vallelunga 2021 at the age of 50.
“I’m really enjoying the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and I’m very happy to be here,” says Lemarie. “I thank the team for the great effort they put in. I finally made it and I’m very happy. It feels good, it has been a long time!” Age is just a number and Lemarie proved to have what it takes to compete at the front in Europe’s premier NASCAR division. After Alexander Graff and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen he was the third first-time winner of a 2022 season that saw a big variety in Victory Lane.
After enjoying his holidays during winter break, Lemarie will make his plans for the 2023 NWES season. The 54-year-old wants to return and now has to work on a proper campaign for the championship that will kick off on May 6-7 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. Will Lemarie be able to break his own record and further raise the bar?