V8s Billed In US As Rugby of Motor Sports

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 17/05/2013
  • By AAP

One local media outlet is describing V8 Supercars as "the rugby of Motorsports".

But whether Americans will tackle it in numbers remains the burning question after the bulk of drivers and team personnel arrived in Texas on Thursday (AEST) for the sport's first foray into the United States.

With Practice set to begin early on Saturday (AEST), most locals do appear to know it is on – though they're short on the specifics of what V8 Supercars actually are.

Texas is a NASCAR heartland, but a motor racing one too, having hosted Formula One and MotoGP successfully in the past six months.

Nissan North America Motorsports chief Rick Kulach is bullish about the V8s' attempt to grab a US foothold.

But he admits NASCAR's popularity – coupled with a clash with the two-day graduation celebrations for the Austin-based University of Texas – could prove hard to cut through this weekend for the inaugural race.

"I think you'll be surprised at the turnout – the crowds won't be Formula One good, but still good," Kulach said.

"The series comes over here, and opens up to a lot of Americans that there is something beyond NASCAR.

"I am all for it and I want to see more of it ... and I think Americans will too."

The bash-and-crash style of racing which has earned the football comparison could also earn the V8s the cult following they need to break a run of offshore events which have petered out or are in limbo.

"It's a huge unknown to go into the race. You don't know if you're going to get 10,000 people there, or 10," Nissan driver Todd Kelly said.

"International events are the best thing ever – if it's the right event for us as a category and if it's got significance.

"This is a great example. You've got us, Ford and GM (Holden's parent General Motors) over here who are in our category, and American-based sponsors.

"If you look through Asia, there's a huge amount of potential there.

"If there are rounds where you're racing overseas, and you wonder what you're doing there, I don't enjoy that."

Tickets for the Austin 400 are priced at $US69 for a three-day pass, and $US49 for race day only – they are available through Ticketmaster

That, according to those who live in America's 13th largest city, could prove a trump card to draw locals, along with the 2000 Australians who have travelled to Austin for the race.

"There's been a lot of them here," said 24-year-old shop assistant Montell, who has spent his week serving a steady stream of Australians at Austin's Barton Creek Square mall.

"There are a couple of other things (on) this weekend, and the traffic (getting to and from the track) is not great, but your ticket prices are reasonable.

"Sounds like a lot of fun, too. And people here don't mind something that's different."

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