Jean Todt was guest of NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. at Daytona International Speedway this weekend.
Todt, who replaced Max Mosley as president of the FIA (Formula One’s governing body) in October, received exposure to American auto racing, which included the Nationwide Series race on Friday night followed by the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the scheduled Sprint Cup race on Saturday.
Todt’s visit comes on the heels of Thursday Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) Fan Forum, which was held in London and hailed a success. The Fan Forum follows NASCAR’s initiative of founding fan councils and reaching out to racing enthusiasts.
So what was Todt’s interest in NASCAR?
“You know, simply, why all those people are here,” Todt said. “It’s very interesting to see what the others are doing, and it’s always something to learn about.
“Of course, there are reasons why NASCAR is so big in America and why Formula One has never really been able so far to do something out here while doing a lot in other countries around the world. It’s a fascinating experience.”
Michael Waltrip Racing’s director of competition, Steve Hallam, who won five world championships during his 27 years as a manager and engineer in Formula One with McLaren and Lotus, commended Todt’s effort in making the trip.
“Personally, I think it’s great that he took the time to look at the sport for himself,” Hallam said. “He may not get the complete view, but getting to take in the races and the drivers’ meeting gives him an idea of what we do.”
As for the announcement that Austin, Texas, will serve as the host city for the Formula One United States Grand Prix in 2012, Todt said: “At the moment, it’s just a project. I don’t think something will happen next year.”