With the arrival of NASCAR's Next Gen car in 2022, an infusion of new and expanding race teams have entered the picture in the Cup Series in anticipation of a new era for stock car racing. And the siren sound of the Next Gen car has resonated all the way across the pond, as a team with strong ties to Europe will become a new player in Cup next season.
On Saturday, Netherlands-based Hezeberg Systems and Reaume Brothers Racing announced the formation of Team Hezeberg, which will field the No. 27 Ford in select NASCAR Cup Series races in 2022. The new part-time team will be fielded by former sports car racer Toine Hezemans, Dutch businessman Ernst Berg, and Reaume Brothers Racing, which currently fields full-time teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The team plans to compete in all road course races in 2022, with the possibility of additional races on short tracks. The driver will be Amsterdam native Loris Hezemans, who currently races full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and won its Championship in 2019 -- A championship which earned him a trip to the United States, where he saw a prototype of the Next Gen car and noted its similarities to the cars he races in Europe.
"We got interested in seeing what would be possible," Hezemans said in a report by Zack Albert of NASCAR.com. "It's incredible to now finally be here, yesterday finally seeing the car for the first time. I don't even have words to describe it — a very exciting moment."
Hezemans has raced three times in the Xfinity Series and twice this season, driving MBM Motorsports' No. 13 at Phoenix and DGM Racing's No. 90 at Pocono. Hezemans is entered in Saturday's Xfinity race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval as the driver of MBM Motorsports' No. 66.
Team Hezeberg plans to participate in an upcoming Next Gen test at Charlotte not only with Hezemans, but another very accomplished driver from Europe: Former Formula 1 champion and 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve will drive the Hezeberg car on Tuesday, and the team has left open the possibility of Villeneuve driving races for the team next season. The Montreal native and son of F1 great Gilles Villeneuve has raced 20 times across NASCAR's top three series and ran the full season in the Whelen Euro Series in 2019.
Team Hezeberg now becomes the fifth different organization to announce either a planned entry into the Cup Series or an expansion of their existing Cup operations ahead of the Next Gen car's launch. 23XI Racing, Trackhouse Racing, and Kaulig Racing have all previously announced their expansions to multi-car teams in 2022, while GMS Racing is set to formally announce its Cup Series plans on Sunday.