Race Planet Team Bleekemolen has confirmed its initial lineup for the 2024 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season. Team boss Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Melvin de Groot will once again pilot the #69 Toyota Camry. The duo has shared the car since 2021 when de Groot replaced Sebastiaan’s injured father Michael. Since then, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen has been chasing the title in EuroNASCAR PRO, while Melvin de Groot has been competing in EuroNASCAR 2 for top-5 finishes and the Legend Trophy, which he won in 2022 and 2023. The latter will try to tie Jerry de Weerdt’s record of three consecutive Legend Trophy titles.
Bleekemolen was a title contender in 2022 when he finished sixth overall and scored his first career race win at Autodrom Most. In 2023, the Dutchman wasn’t able to compete at the front of the field, but the 45-year-old is ready to fight his way back to the top of the EuroNASCAR PRO grid and chase his second race win in EuroNASCAR’s elite championship for professional drivers. Three top-5 finishes and a podium in 2023 highlighted the Aerdenhout native’s speed, but luck hasn’t been on his side.
“I think the series has a lot of potential and I want to be part of that success,” Bleekemolen said of his EuroNASCAR journey. “And besides that, I think I and the team have more potential than I showed last season. In 2023 the team was fighting for the championship, but unfortunately I wasn’t a title contender. We’ve had some really bad luck, although there was enough potential. I’ve only been on the podium once. It has to be much better in 2024. Hopefully we can fight for the championship!”
De Groot, the owner of an international paper recycling company from the Netherlands, is the epitome of the gentleman driver. The 46-year-old joined the EuroNASCAR 2 championship in 2021 as the replacement for Michael Bleekemolen. He found himself immediately at ease and has been competing full-time since 2022. The native of Aerdenhout won the Legend Trophy for drivers aged 40 and over in 2022 and 2023 and is aiming for another trophy win in 2024, which would tie de Weerdt’s record of three consecutive Legend Trophy wins. He’s also just three Legend Trophy race wins shy of Eric de Doncker’s record of 17 wins in the special classification.
“I’ve been racing for more than 25 years now and I’m still surprised at how much fun EuroNASCAR is,” said the Dutchman. “There is a high level of competition, good racing, fast cars and well organized events. I have won two Legend Trophies in a row. For me it’s time to fight for the EuroNASCAR 2 title. I’ll be able to compete in all the events this year and I’ll fight as hard as I can to achieve my goals. Winning the Legend Trophy twice was really nice, especially in 2023 because I was far behind in points before the last event in Zolder.”
Race Planet Team Bleekemolen is expected to bring more cars to the grid in 2024, but more announcements will be made in the near future. The Dutch dream team of Bleekemolen and de Groot are hungry to conquer NWES Victory Lane and make their mark in the official European NASCAR championship, which kicks off April 13-14 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. All races will be broadcast live on the EuroNASCAR YouTube channel.