Nascar: from Blaye, Paul Jouffreau, 17, rides to the top

Paul Jouffreau (center) has a very promising future in motor racing (© photo provided by the family)

Native Blaye (Gironde), Paul Jouffreau will be the youngest racing driver to evolve in the NASCAR Europe Championship in 2021 and 2022.

At just 17, the kid does not yet have a driver’s license. And yet, it exceeds 200km / h at the wheel of a racing car with 450 horsepower under the hood. Impressed with the speed? « No, not really, » he says quietly over the phone.

At this moment, Paul is in Spain, on the circuit Ricciardo Tormo from Valencia, for the presentation of the new pilots in the NASCAR Europe Championship. And in the presence, please, of representatives of the famous American franchise. The dad, Frédéric, says he is « more stressed » than the son.

For the 2021 and 2022 seasons, the Girondin rookie will therefore ride aboard a Ford Mustang in the team Speedhouse Racing.

The little story of Nascar

NASCAR is the most popular automobile championship in the United States. It was Bill France who created the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) in 1948 and laid the foundations for an organized championship. Because stock-car races, wild, there were already in the 1930s at the time of prohibition. « To escape the police, alcohol smugglers trafficked their vehicles and met for wild races along the coasts, » says the site Europe 1.

“He blew people away right away. We felt that there was something « 

Its ascent has been meteoric, at high speed. And at the same time, you don’t (really) have to hang around in the world of motorsport to make a name for yourself.

Let’s rewind. The teenager comes from a family of pilots, that helps (sometimes). The paternal grandfather, Michel, won several hill climb titles at the wheel of his Alpine Berlinette. The dad, he started karting at 28 – “the only thing I could afford” – and scrapped at the regional level. “I had a blast,” he says. “But I didn’t have Paul’s level. « 

Paul discovered the 12-pin kart. “I put his ass in the bucket on the Etauliers circuit,” Frédéric remembers. And very quickly, the magic operates on the track. “Right away, he blew people away. We felt that there was something ”, loose the latter, not a little proud. It’s called talent.

In terms of results, in 2017, the teenager completed his first season with the status of best rookie in all categories as part of the New Aquitaine Ufolep karting trophy. Before winning, the following year, the title of vice-champion.

“The Spaniards made me grow up very, very quickly. He really went to the right school ”

The following ? Paul is first spotted by the Spanish team TDKart Racing and integrate the Spanish championship CEK LA LIGA. There, we don’t speak a word of French. He must alternate between English and Spanish. Between June and September 2019, he participates in three races out of six. « He had mechanical problems but the pace was there », analyzes Frédéric. He pursues :

The Spaniards are competitors. Sport in general is a religion for them. They made me grow up very, very quickly. He really went to the right school.

Frédéric JouffreauPaul dad

March 2020. The crisis of Covid-19 (coronavirus) rages. “We were panicking because, in this sport, things have to go fast. But this pandemic has aligned the planets as I often say, ”explains the dad.

While the entire sports world is at a standstill, Paul is asked to participate in the Future Driver virtual championship. Result of the races: he won a second place and marked the spirits among the pros. As a reward, the boy is invited to drive, last July, a Formula Renault on the circuit of La Châtre (Indre). And above all he gets to know Lucas Lasserre, the pilot from Pau, double winner in Nascar Whelem Euro Series and manager of Team Speedhouse Racing.

Lucas Lasserre saw me ride. He really liked my driving. Since then, we have gotten along very humanly. The relationship came about naturally.

Paul Jouffreau

Lucas Lasserre immediately detected Paul’s potential. In the process, he made him sign a contract of engagement for two seasons in his team, in the NASCAR Europe championship.

In just four years, Paul (right) went from karting to the Nascar series (© Photo provided by the family)

« It’s super fun to drive »

Recently, on the Fontenay-le-Comte circuit, the young Blayais made his first NASCAR tests aboard a training car. Weight: 900 kilos. Measurements: 5 meters long and two meters wide. And 450 horsepower under the hood. « The rate is enormous compared to a kart and its 33 horses », comments the dad. A sacred beast that he tamed easily. “He bluffed all the officials. « Paul: » Frankly, it’s super fun to drive. It’s a healthy car. I was not at all afraid. I love. « 

He wants to become a professional pilot

The official season will start in April 2021 on the Valencia circuit. This year, the Gironde rookie will play in the “Regularity Challenge” category before aiming a little higher in 2022. On the program: seven dates across Europe.

In the meantime, there is work to be done. A big physical preparation accompanied by a strict diet. “Since the kart, I have removed the bread and dairy products. That’s a habit to take. I live it well. The training. It will be once a month on the Fontenay-le-Comte circuit. And the studies ? No worries, everything is rolling. Paul is in final S. The father: “He has justified absences, because he is considered a high level athlete. We do not let go of studies. This is the deal. « Paul: » You have to be organized and not put off work until the next day. « 

He would like to become an engineer. Finally, it’s plan B. His primary ambition: to be a professional pilot. And participate in the (famous) American championship, that of the Nascar Cup Series, « Where pilots are considered gods. »  »

My dream is to make a name for myself, to participate in great races and to be paid to ride.

Paul Jouffreau

In the meantime, besides his future results on the oval track, money will also have to follow. The other sinews of war basically. Because if the father manages a communication company and « is lucky to have a lot of networks », he will have to find patrons and other sponsors. Without which the American dream of the son will be complicated to achieve.

And the Formula 1, which Paul never misses? The boy responds tit-for-tat, frankly, « Frankly, I think it’s dead. » It takes a lot of money to be spotted. It’s a huge drag. « In any case, much more than for the NASCAR …

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