The Garage 56 entry at Le Mans is quite interesting. Introduced in 2021, it allows for a single-entry class reserved for innovative cars, that doesn’t take away the sport of a traditional Le Mans race car, and is in effect an experimentation class.
There have been all sorts of Garage 56 entries over the years, but a fascinating one is coming in 2023. Hendrick Motorsports, the legendary NASCAR team that runs the Chevrolet Camaro, have announced that they intend to field a special NASCAR entry in the class at the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours.
NASCAR Goes To Le Mans
Hendrick Motorsports state that the entry is in collaboration with NASCAR, Hendrick themselves, Chevrolet, IMSA and Goodyear. The car that will get raced will be a modified version of the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR race car, modified, so it can, in effect, compete as a GT car in the Le Mans field. There are no technical details released as of yet nor any details on who might drive the car. But Hendrick says that these will all get announced at a later date.
The Candidates For The Le Mans Drive
The announcement is not only exciting on the technical front, but also the driver front too. Hendrick Motorsports has some amazing drivers on its books in NASCAR, which are, of course, reigning champion Kyle Larson, 2020 champion Chase Elliot, Alex Bowman and William Byron.
The team still has connections with Jimmie Johnson, who is now racing in IndyCar and IMSA, and it isn’t perhaps too much of a stab in the dark to suggest Jeff Gordon could have some interest in the race.
However, the team might well go for a mix of its NASCAR talent, and drivers who have experience at Le Mans.
A Unique Challenge For Hendrick Motorsports
Its Garage 56 entry will be a unique challenge, and it will certainly be a victory to get the modified Camaro to the end of the 24-hour race. The return of a NASCAR to Le Mans will mean it is nearly half a century after Bill France Sr first took stock cars to the famous endurance race, and it will add another layer of excitement to what should already be an exciting race.
The 2023 race will see an expanded hypercars class and hopefully more competition in the GT classes as well, so Hendrick could not have picked a better time to bring NASCAR back to Le Mans.
Source: Hendrick Motorsports