NASCAR goes Fuel Injected – Finally


It’s been about 20 years or so since you could get a carburetor on a mainstream passenger car, but that hasn’t stopped NASCAR from being the final holdout. For the last 47 years, stock cars have relied on carburetors to supply fuel to their pushrod V-8s.

Now that’s finally set to change. Beginning next year, the Sprint Cup will officially embrace fuel injection, with plans to have EFI motors installed and ready in time for the 2012 season opener at Daytona. In order to make it all happen, NASCAR is partnering with McLaren Electronic Systems (yes, part of the UK based McLaren Group of F1 fame).

McLaren will supply the ECUs for Sprint Cup engines, with a company called Freescale providing the actual processors. The electronic fuel injection system, software and calibrations all have to be approved by NASCAR before use and the organization has invested in special tools for testing the systems to ensure legality at all races during the course of the season.

Given political pressure placed on motorsports organizations to improve efficiency and reduce their carbon footprint, it was only a matter of time before NASCAR made some concessions – replacing carburetors with EFI systems is seen by many as a logical move.

In recent statements, both Ford Motorsports and Toyota Racing Development said they welcomed the change –  Ford’s Jamie Allison saying “we think it’s important that both the cars and technology in NASCAR are more closely related to production cars.”

TRD’s Lee White, echoed similar opinions also stating that from Toyota’s standpoint the benefits of adopting fuel injection “far outweigh the potential costs.”

Eight companies were originally asked to submit bids for NASCAR EFI systems, with McLaren selected as a winner from three finalists, the others were Bosch and Marelli.

Given NASCAR’s huge fan base, especially in the US, it will be interesting to see how the 2012 season pans out, though efficiency benefits or not, chairman Brian France perhaps summed it best when referring to the new move.

“We’re on a steady march to more technology in the cars, which is historically unlike us in some respects, provided that it doesn’t burden the teams with additional costs that don’t translate to our fan base,” he said. However, more importantly  an even bigger reason for adopting technology such as EFI, “is to make sure that it makes racing better.”

[Source: Fox Sports]