A European adventure with majestic castles, gorgeous lakes, wild rides

Nate Ryan
NBC Sports

CHARLOTTE – The fabulous cuisine and the gorgeous countryside were a delight, but one aspect of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series left Myatt Snider occasionally pining for America.

The racing.

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In his debut on the European stock-car circuit last April at the road course in Valencia, Spain, Snider noticed the leader leaving the door open for a pass by lifting early entering the final corner. So on the final lap, Snider slammed the gas, drove in three car lengths deeper and made contact on the curb that resulted in spins for both drivers.

“I was like, ‘OK. It was a racing move,’” Snider recalled recently to NBC Sports. “We both were going for it. He kind of put my line off so no fault, no harm.”

Until a postrace summons arrived from the stewards, who had an opposing viewpoint of the last-lap contact.

“The most disrespectful, egregious thing they had ever seen,” Snider said with a laugh. “‘You completely wrecked him! You took away his line!’ I’m like, ‘No, I was inside of him and he kind of cut my line off.’ ‘No, the first car always has the right of way.’

“Right of way? What are you talking about? This is racing. You make your right of way. So I was of particular focus to them for the rest of the year to make sure that I didn’t cause any more egregious events. They were like, ‘It’s very different over here. This is not America!’ I’m like, ‘I get that, but this still is NASCAR!’ ”

Those pleas will fall on more receptive ears this season for Snider, who returns to his home soil to race slightly more than half of the Xfinity Series schedule between two teams.

The 25-year-old son of NASCAR on NBC pit reporter Marty Snider will be driving the No. 21 Chevrolet in select races for Richard Childress Racing, beginning with today’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

He also will be running a partial schedule for Ryan Sieg Racing, including the bulk of the road-course schedule. The storied layouts of Valencia, Brands Hatch and Hockenheim (which also plays host to Formula 1) provided some heady training in NASCAR Euro last year.

“Racing on some of the most prestigious circuits that Europe has to offer, I think it’s great preparation,“ said Snider, who finished sixth in the 2019 Whelen Euro Elite 2 standings with two podiums and a pole position. “Because a big heavy stock car on road courses is the same as another big heavy stock on a road course. So the only difference is now that it’ll be an Xfinity car vs. a Whelen Euro car.”

That should ease some of the challenges of juggling a split schedule with two teams. Between commuting from his Huntersville, North Carolina, home to the Sugar Hill, Georgia-based Sieg Racing shop and RCR’s headquarters in Welcome, North Carolina, Snider estimated he put about 5,000 miles on his car during the offseason.

Traveling has become secondhand, though, for a driver who often flew between the United States and Europe last year (while still maintaining a course load at UNC Charlotte, where he is majoring in math). Snider made the most of his working holiday, particularly enjoying a visit to the picturesque lakes of Italy.

“They were absolutely gorgeous,” Snider said. “I went to Lake Orta and posted a story on Instagram calling it God’s canvas. It was great.

“And the food there was really good. The best was in Czech Republic. The place we stayed there was really insane because they had this hilltop next to the race track, and it was maybe 500 feet higher than the rest of the land. And on top was this old castle that had been converted into a hotel. They also had a little restaurant attached to the side that had some pretty amazing foods. It’s hard to go anywhere in Europe and find bad food.”

Despite the extra scrutiny of officiating and no-contact rules, the races also were enjoyable. Snider is hoping to return to the Euro Series for another crack at the Raceway Venray, a half-mile progressively banked oval near Amsterdam.

But the main focus will be his return to racing domestically after finishing ninth in the 2018 truck series standings. Daytona will mark the Xfinity debut of Snider, who also will be making a start with RCR at Martinsville. It’s the first visit in 14 years by the Xfinity Series to the 0.526-mile oval where Snider has some helpful experience in Late Models.

“I want to perform at the level the car’s capable of performing, and I have no doubt that that’s capable of winning,” he said. “So I think my best chances are going to be at the short tracks and the plate races. Obviously, I want to win everywhere I go, but the fact that I’m going to Martinsville in RCR equipment is going to be absolutely awesome.”

Myatt Snider climbs into his Chevrolet during Xfinity practice at Daytona (HHP/Alan Marler).
Myatt Snider climbs into his Chevrolet during Xfinity practice at Daytona (HHP/Alan Marler).

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