Is Every Car In NASCAR The Same?

Is Every Car In NASCAR The Same

While every car racing within NASCAR must abide by the strict regulations set forth, there are slight differences when it comes to the cars that compete in NASCAR. When people began stock-racing back in the 1940s, drivers would purchase cars directly from dealerships with no modifications on them. Drivers would use the same cars that people at home were driving. In 1947, NASCAR was formed. Since early racing tracks were primarily dirt, the organization allowed for vehicle modifications for durability. 

Over the years, more and more modifications have been allowed, slowly increasing the performance of the cars over the years. The only real variation of NASCAR models today is in their engines and body shell. The overall shape of each of the cars, the tires, suspensions, fueling systems, electronics, and transmission are all the exact same.


What Cars Are Used In NASCAR?

There are currently three different manufacturers who produce NASCAR cars: Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet. Each of these companies is required to submit its engine design to NASCAR for approval. Every NASCAR is a type of racecar known as the Generation-6 Car, designed to make stock cars better resemble street-legal cars. This model has been used as a template for NASCAR vehicles since 2013.

Standards and Regulations

Every NASCAR vehicle must abide by strict standards and regulations or risk being disqualified, fined, or even docked points. NASCAR only allows these parts for competition:

  • Engine Block
  • Cylinder heads
  • Intake manifold and spacers
  • Crankshaft
  • Camshaft
  • Valvetrain
  • Pistons
  • Connecting rods
  • Bearings
  • Harmonic balancer
  • Fuel pump
  • Fuel injectors
  • Ignition system and coils

Racing teams are able to reuse these parts and some elements are allowed variation. For example, the block and cylinder heads of the engine can be re-machined within a range of certain tolerances. The tolerances for piston ring gaps and bearings are the only pieces that engineers did not have to follow any NASCAR regulations on. In terms of quantitative regulations for the engine, all engines have to feature a 358 cubic inch (5.86 liter) V8 that develops 750 horsepower. The current regulation on horsepower for NASCAR is 750 hp on tracks shorter than one mile and just 550 hp on tracks longer than 1 mile. Overall, due to the strict regulations that NASCAR has set in place, all engines will have almost the exact same performance, with a variation of about 1-2%.

NASCAR prohibits the use of turbocharged engines and no car has ever used one in the history of the sport. This is largely due to turbo lag which can result in the engine delivering instant power, likely leading to an error or crash.

The Template

NASCAR uses a template, the Gen-6 Racecar, to establish a level playing field for all drivers and car models. The whole concept behind the template is to ensure that all drivers are racing under the same conditions. The template is made up of the chassis (the underpinnings of the racecar) with steel tube welding to complete the skeleton of the car. Teams will then drop their own distinctive body shell on the skeleton giving the cars their different appearance but still having the same shape. All racecars looking to race in NASCAR must meet and be approved by the guidelines set by this template.

Different Cars for Different Tracks

In the sport of NASCAR, there are many different locations where racing events are held. As a result, there are many different tracks a driver would race on. Teams may want to use different cars depending on the track and which one optimizes their performance. Short tracks will favor cars where top speeds are lower and turning is tighter, while cars with higher speeds would be used for longer tracks. The short-track cars are designed with as much downforce as possible to increase friction and the ability of the car to stick through a tight or sharp turn. However, this higher downforce does increase air resistance, which is why these cars are only used on short tracks.

Super Speedway tracks such as Talladega and Daytona are examples of longer tracks and where you would want to be racing higher-speed cars with less air resistance. In the early days of racing, teams had the ability to use three or four different cars, but as of 2020, NASCAR has limited that number to just two.

FAQ

How does the inspection process work?

Before any car can race in a NASCAR event, it must first be inspected and approved by a NASCAR official. These inspections take place on race days a few hours before the start. Inspectors carefully examine each car and make sure the wing follows regulations and that tolerances fall within a certain range. Teams often bring mallets and tools to this part of the inspection process in case they need to make any additional adjustments. The cars are also inspected after the race a final time to double-check that no regulations or rules have been violated.

What happens if the car fails inspection?

If the car fails NASCAR’s inspection, it will not be allowed to race and depending on the infractions, could be subject to penalties as well. An example of this was in 2007 when NASCAR found that Jeff Gordon’s #24 car had modified its fenders in an area that the NASCAR template could not detect. As a punishment, the car was impounded until the fenders were fixed, the team was fined $100,000, and got a 100-point penalty as well, an extremely costly mistake. 

Do NASCARS have power steering?

All NASCAR race cars are built with power steering to help the drivers steer the vehicle when traveling over 200 mph. These power steering systems are what control the way in which the wheels are turned. This allows drivers to yank the wheel rapidly in a certain direction and not spin the car out of control.

Can all NASCARs go in reverse?

All NASCARs are designed and built to be able to go in reverse in case the driver ever needs to change directions in an emergency. NASCARs currently use a 4-speed manual transmission known as an “H” pattern, so sometimes it is mistaken that they cannot go in reverse. The reverse gear is also used when unloading/loading the vehicle.