As most of you are probably aware, Hartwell Speedway in Georgia closed its gates last week due to COVID-19 restrictions. It was a sad day for motorsports as we all knew it would be, but we’re fortunate that the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series did not have to stop in its tracks.
Not only was the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series able to hold its season finale on Friday, April 24, there were also a number of historic moments to be found.
Most Improved Driver
It’s hard to believe that only one year ago, Jonny Rea was competing in the middle of the pack of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. However, in the middle of this season, the 23-year-old Leamington Spa, England, native won three races and climbed to the top of the heap in the standings.
What had happened? Well, Rea had changed teams twice, competed in nine different series, and even managed to earn a spot on the England 's World Cup driving squad. And that was all in just his first year as a professional racing driver!
Most Popular Driver
Similarly, Jordan King was a relative unknown, with just two full-time NASCAR Whelen Euro Series races under his belt. However, the 18-year-old rookie out of Missouri stole the show in 2020 with four wins and seven top-five finishes to his name.
King went on to become the most popular driver at Hartwell, amassing over 16,000 Twitter followers, over 8,000 Instagram followers, and nearly 4,600 YouTube subscribers.
It says a lot about King that he was able to rack up such big numbers in such a short amount of time. And this was all before the end of the season!
Most Memorable Moment
Speaking of short amounts of time, the most memorable moment of the season undoubtedly has to be the coronavirus pandemic. In the middle of April, the world saw an unprecedented surge in the number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19.
It’s hard to put into words the anxiety that followed. Races were postponed, some teams decided to disband, and the fear of the unknown hung over the motorsports world like a dark cloud. But as days turned to weeks, the clouds began to part, and slowly but surely, motorsports came back.
Despite all that, the season was filled with highlights, including a riveting battle for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series crown between Rea and reigning series champion Austin Mack.
And then, of course, there was the series finale on Friday, April 24, where both Rea and Mack were in the hunt for the title. However, with only one remaining race to go, it was anybody’s championship to win.
With only three weeks remaining in the season, we were treated to one of the greatest finishes in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. In the end, it was Rea who came out on top, earning his first series title.
It was arguably the most exciting season in the history of the series, and it’s safe to say that Hartwell Speedway will never be the same.
It’s been a wild year, to say the least, and it’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since Hartwell Speedway closed its doors. And while it’s sad to see the legendary Atlanta Motor Speedway go, at least it was a good financial decision. The track was losing money hand over fist, and it was only a matter of time before they had to make the tough call and close their doors. And that’s what they did in April of this year.
It’s amazing how fast things can change, how technology can play a role in making things more convenient, and how things can go back to normal in the blink of an eye. But for now, we will remember the great season of 2020 as the last hurrah of the Atlanta Motor Speedway era, and we will cherish the historic moments that were shared there. It was a pleasure to be a part of it, and we will miss you dearly.