Small Car Czar
McRae to NASCAR? Rally champ could come Stateside
Britain's first world rally champion Colin McRae, who faces losing his drive in the World Rally championship after this year, will meet officials from NASCAR in North Carolina later this month to discuss a move to the series.
Currently commanding $7 million a year at Citroen, yet winless since the middle of last year, McRae could be left out in the cold if the French team decides to retain Carlos Sainz instead of the Scot. New regulations imposed by the FIA limit the number of seats open for 2004.
"I will pursue all avenues in rallying but I only want to drive for a top team. If I cannot do that I would look at other forms of motor sport," said McRae during last weekend's Rally Australia.
McRae has all but ruled out Formula One. He had a successful test in a Jordan in the late nineties and, while at Ford, had been touted for another test with its Stewart (now Jaguar) team.
"I think I would be quick enough but F1 would require a massive amount of commitment," he said. "What appeals more is GT racing like the ALMS series or NASCAR. Of course I'd like to do Winston Cup but I might have to start with something like the Busch series."
McRae's rally video game has already made him a cult name in the States. If McRae does make the move to NASCAR, he will be the first European world champion to attempt the largely domestic series. Former Ferrari F1 driver Patrick Tambay tested a stock car a few years ago but never raced.
McRae has oval racing experience. Last year he entered an ASCAR--the British version of NASCAR--race at Rockingham in Northamptonshire. His qualifying lap was the fastest lap ever set by a rookie at the track and in the race he was leading until a puncture dropped him to the midfield.
"It felt really natural. Once I got accustomed to the car I was right on the pace. It was the same with the Jordan F1 car," he said . "I think if you can drive a rally car on snow or ice and gravel then it's a good grounding for other racing. I want to be competitive in whatever I do. I still have the racing bug. I am not ready to retire."