Ever since December 14, 1947, when Bill France Sr. convened a meeting at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach to plan what was to become NASCAR, followed by the first event on February 15, 1948, two things remain. NASCAR has continued, and the Streamline hotel still stands. NASCAR has gone through changes, and it faces challenges, so there is a lot of work to do for the sport to remain viable.
In 2022 the generation 7 car, formally known as the Next-Gen car, will be introduced. It will feature a new steel chassis, a floor-mounted six-speed Xtrac Limited sequential manual transmission, independent rear suspension, a new wheel design, and a redesigned Refuelling system.
NASCAR viewership and trackside attendance have reduced substantially over the last five years. The Next-Gen car aims to improve the quality of racing, lower the cost of the sport, attract new manufacturers while also significantly improving the safety of everyone concerned.
The Next Gen NASCAR Incorporates Several New Features
The design of the 2021 car was an evolution of the original 1950s and 1960s technology.
The rear suspension could trace its roots to a truck arm based on the Ford 9-inch axle. The front suspension evolved from a GM truck design, and the chassis was based on single rails positioned from the front to the back of the car.
Technology has moved on, and in 2019 NASCAR decided to launch a clean sheet design which became known as the Next-Gen car for the 2021 season. COVID interrupted those plans, so the launch was delayed to the 2022 season.
The changes which the Next-Gen model introduces are listed below.
1. The Chassis Has Changed
Although the original predictions were that a carbon fiber chassis would be developed, it is now known that the chassis will be a lightweight steel space design. It is designed in modular units, which will allow it to be more easily set up for different tracks.
2. The Transmission Is Being Changed
Instead of the current four-speed, manual gearbox, a new sequential box will be used. The disadvantage is that the driver can only select the next or previous gear; however, gear changes are faster.
3. Independent Rear Suspension Is Now Going To Be Standard
Instead of the old-style suspension, which had evolved from the Ford 9-inch axle, the Next-Gen car employs a new independent rear suspension, improving the Next-Gen car’s handling.
4. Next-Gen adopts A Newly Designed Wheel
The current 15-inch wheels are attached to the car with five lugs. These are being replaced with eighteen-inch wheels and a single-center locking nut.
Bigger wheels imply the tires have a lower profile with stiffer sidewalls and improved handling.
The most significant benefit will be that the tire changer’s roll will be more straightforward, and pit stops should be much faster. Because the regulations are strict, NASCAR pitstops will not manage the sub three second times achieved by F1; however, it will improve on the current sub thirteen second times. We look forward to seeing what the pit crews achieve.
The extra space that the new wheel size brings makes more room for bigger and better brakes to be installed, which will increase cooling and durability, resulting in better, more consistent stopping times.
5. A New Refuelling System Is Being Introduced
There have been times when the gas canister has caught fire.
The new system ditches the gas canister, which is to be replaced by a clamp-on refueling hose, eliminating the need to carry the gas canister over the wall.
A secure clamp will hopefully reduce the risk of potential spillage and fire.
Why Is The Next-Gen Car Being Introduced?
Each time changes are made to NASCAR, the goal is to make specific enhancements that enrich the sport.
The improvements the NASCAR Next-Gen brings are no exception. With the new car NASCAR has set three particular goals;
- It needs to reduce the cost of the sport
- It is intended to increase safety
- It must improve the racing experience
These are critical objectives that we will study in more detail. We also have a full article on this below.
It Needs To Reduce The Cost Of The Sport
Reducing the cost of the sport is essential to its survival. In a related racing discipline, F1 has imposed cost caps in the last season, and into the future, with the intention that teams will compete on a more even playing field.
Original Equipment Manufacturers of NASCAR are the lifeblood of the sport. Presently NASCAR has only three manufacturers involved. They are Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet. To keep NASCAR sustainable, it needs to attract new players.
Die-hard fans, please close your eyes or jump off this paragraph!
The Next-Gen car has been designed to incorporate electrification, whether it be an entire TESLA type powertrain or, more likely, hybrid electric enhancements such as the KERS system deployed on F1 cars.
Manufacturers feel the pressure of climate change and the radicalization of climate politics. Before new manufacturers leap into NASCAR, there has to be a roadmap to electrification, which appeals to the manufacturers.
The hope is that new manufacturers will be enticed in with the cost reductions and a framework leaning towards cleaner power.
The hottest rumor is that Dodge will be the following manufacturer to join, and if the scuttlebutt is authentic, that could be as soon as the 2023 or 2024 season. Other manufacturers regularly named are Honda and Volkswagen.
Both companies sound like a real possibility. Honda has just left F1 after powering the Red bull car to second in the manufacturer’s championship. There are all sorts of noises about brands within the Volkswagen dipping a toe into F1 (so why not NASCAR?)
The Next-Gen Car Is Intended To Increase Safety
A whole raft of improvements will improve driver safety and the safety of everyone else involved.
- Improved aero packages will increase the downforce, improve handling and make the cars more secure on the track.
- The improved aero packages will reduce the number of “flying wrecks” in the sport by raising the speed at which the Next-Gen car becomes airborne.
- The new wheel designs will make pitstops faster and less prone to errors
- The new refueling system will stop the need for the Gasman to carry the portable tank over the wall. The connection system will also be safer with less chance of a leak.
- Drivers sit lower down in the Next-Gen car; this means their heads are further away from the roof, reducing the potential for head and neck injuries.
It Must Improve The Racing Experience
In 2014 5.3 million viewers watched the Cup Series races. In 2019, that number had dropped by 46% to just 2.92 million.
At the races, the drop in attendance was also seen; at The Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway which is capable of hosting 150,000 spectators; attendance has reduced to just 38,000
If it is to survive, NASCAR must attract spectators and viewership back.
NASCAR viewers have a unique trackside view of race cars traveling 200mph (320kph). The Next-Gen cars will hopefully bring back the intense racing of yesteryear.
The Next-Gen car should make the battles fought on track more intense and exciting.
The raft of advances the Next-Gen car brings to the track will go a long way to meet the objectives set for it.
New manufacturers, improved driver safety, and attracting more significant viewership will enhance the sport’s long-term prospects and ensure an exciting future.