What Is Garage 56 in NASCAR?
Garage 56 is a special program to include experimental race cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. For 2023, NASCAR was selected to enter a car in Garage 56. Keep reading to learn how Garage 56 works and why it’s important in NASCAR.
- Year Created: 2012
- Team Owners: Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR, Goodyear
- Drivers: Mike Rockenfeller, Jimmie Johnson, Jenson Button
- Series: NASCAR, WEC (World Endurance Championship)
- Governing Body: ACO (l'Automobile Club de l'Ouest)
What Is Garage 56?
Garage 56 is an extra slot in the grid of the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race reserved for innovative race cars. Garage 56 was added to the race in 2012, and every year race teams apply to be the Garage 56 entry. Garage 56 cars are not part of the official competition, and they are not required to meet technical regulations or be homologated. The governing body, the ACO, invites one team each year based on the creativity of their entry.
Garage 56 Project in NASCAR
The Garage 56 project is a partnership between NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, and Goodyear that develops experimental stock car racing technology. The team builds and tests prototype stock cars as a part of the process of refining NASCAR standards for future race car generations. They also develop different components and setups to help NASCAR cars compete in other series.
The Garage 56 team does not compete in NASCAR races, but they do run with the field during NASCAR practice and testing sessions. The team was initially created so that the owner of the biggest NASCAR team and the official tire manufacturer would be able to collaborate on the development of the Generation 7 race car.
Now, Garage 56 is making a historic exhibition entry into the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans, a famous sports car endurance race. The Garage 56 team has been using their track time during NASCAR testing sessions to hone their custom Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 stock car for competition in the race.
Garage 56 was created in 2012, and running a NASCAR car at Le Mans was already on Jim France’s mind. The NASCAR CEO’s father and founder of the sport, Bill France, had famously entered two experimental NASCAR race cars in the 1976 24 Hours of LeMans. A Dodge Charger and a Ford Torino competed in the Grand International class, but neither car was able to finish the race. NASCAR has not returned to the event since.
The first Garage 56 car, in 2012, was a Nissan DeltaWing. It only weighed 500 kg and had an extreme, aerodynamic shape resembling a spaceship. The next year’s car was the Green GT H2, a Swiss-designed concept powered by hydrogen fuel. Since then, each year’s chosen car has been equally forward-thinking, as the ACO uses the program to challenge the norms of race car design.
The Garage 56 drivers for 2023 are Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller, and Jenson Button. Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and one of the greatest stock car drivers ever. Mike Rockenfeller is a German sports car driver competing in DTM and WEC. He won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010, driving for Alex Job Racing. Jenson Button is a former Formula 1 star who won the F1 Drivers’ Championship in 2009.
Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro Specs
Here are the unique specifications of the Garage 56 Camaro ZL1 which will compete in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans:
- Functioning headlights and tail lights
- Total weight of 2,960 lbs (525 lbs lighter than standard)
- 32 gal fuel cell (12 gal larger than standard)
- Integral flap systems and camera mounts on the body
- Carbon undertray with Le Mans-spec splitter, rear diffuser, and engine panel
Why is it called Garage 56?
It is called Garage 56 because the cars use pit stall number 56. There are 55 competitive grid positions in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and thus 55 pit stalls. To accommodate an additional exhibition car without taking a slot away from a competitor, stall 56 was utilized for the first time when Garage 56 was created.
Who created Garage 56?
The ACO (l'Automobile Club de l'Ouest) created Garage 56 in 2012. The governing body of the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the AOC, launched the program to encourage innovation in race car design. Each year, the AOC has chosen a creative and forward-thinking entry for this exhibition slot in the race.
Who will drive the Garage 56 car?
Jimmie Johnson, Mike Rockenfeller, and Jenson Button will drive the Garage 56 car in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. Coming from different racing disciplines, each driver is a decorated champion in their respective series.