Martin Read – Sports Reporter
Southwater’s Emma and Simon Chalkly are proud owners of a genuine, raced American NASCAR, Emma telling the District Post: “We are attending the AmeriCARna event in Horsham again this weekend with our car – we promote NASCAR sport and go to many events such as the Goodwood 77 Members Meeting, the American Speedfest at Brands Hatch, Brooklands and Dunsfold. There are a handful of these race cars in the UK, three owned by people in Southwater, and some of the owners share a workshop on the Knepp Castle estate to maintain the specialised vehicles.” Husband Simon adds: “Our car successfully raced in the top level Sprint Cup (now the Monster Energy Cup series), with total winnings of over $800,000, driven by NASCAR Nationwide Champion Carl Edwards and Daytona 500 winner, Jamie McMurray. The car is based on a US Ford Fusion, built by Roush Fenway in North Carolina with an 850+ horsepower engine.”
Simon dreamt of buying and importing the car ever since growing up watching iconic TV shows like the Dukes of Hazzard, admitting: “That made me into a petrol head at a very young age!” His passion was boosted after attending many NASCAR races in the States, when he knew that he just had to have one of the cars, an ambition fulfilled with help from his friend, Chevrolet Impala owner, Paul Yorkshire: “My interest in NASCAR is much deeper than just the racing, it’s a family sport, the drivers are very approachable, giving their time to the huge fan base in the States – it’s the largest spectator sport in America. Drivers’ salaries are comparable to Formula 1 with many flying their own personal planes to and from the tracks. But, they give a lot back by running their own charities for people less fortunate.”
NASCAR roots are from illegal Moonshine runners of the 30s and 40s, making their own Fords, Chevys and Dodges faster to outrun the cops. At weekends the drivers attended grassroots racetracks to see who had the fastest hot rod. Then, many drivers and mechanics had a meeting in Daytona Beach, creating NASCAR.
“Nowadays”, continues Simon: “200mph is commonplace in NASCAR, and the sport is growing over here and in Europe, with live races broadcast in the UK by Premier Sports. Apart from the various NASCARS in West Sussex, there is a further collection in our South of England group, attending events with us.”
At AmeriCARna Simon and Emma’s car will be started up, raising funds for St Catherine’s hospice and Cancer research, charities close to their hearts. Goodies are handed to children and adults, the pair revelling in the great pleasure of interacting with interested visitors, giving them photo opportunities, answering many questions and providing everyone with a chance to see a NASCAR outside of the USA. The cars are all self-funded, so, naturally any sponsorship enabling attendance at events is most gratefully appreciated, Simon concluding: “Seeing the kids’ faces light up when they first set their eyes on the car takes me back to my own childhood days watching the General Lee on a Saturday night!”