Monday, March 24, 2014

New Cup Engine Rumors Much Ado About Nothing

Ford's EcoBoost twin turbo V6 is one of tomorrow's engines
NASCAR has been hinting for more than a year that it is working on new engine regulations for the Sprint Cup series, perhaps going into effect as early as the 2015 season.

Officials had been saying everything was being considered for its “Engine of Tomorrow,” including a move to a V6 and even the possibility of a V6 turbo, a change already made by IndyCar, sports car racing and Formula One.

Now NASCAR is beginning to leak some of the details about the new regulations and it appears they’re focused on trimming about 100 horsepower from the current engine’s 850 to 900 hp output.  That’s it.   The stories say NASCAR is working very closely with the manufacturers on how to make the horsepower cuts, with ideas ranging from reducing the size of the existing V8 engine slightly to the to use of tapered spacers.

Who cares.

If that’s the route NASCAR decides on, it has missed an opportunity to regain some relevancy and may doom itself forever to dinosaur status. 

The current engine configuration has been in use for more than 25 years.  The series made a huge concession to reality a few years back by adding electronic fuel injection and switching to ethanol fuel. 

Welcome to the 1990s.

Meanwhile, during the next 10 years the auto industry will go through enormous changes mandated by Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that are set to nearly double by 2025, to 54.5 miles per gallon, from the current 29.7 mpg standard.  That’s easily the greatest increase in standards since they were first established in the early 1970s.

Currently only the Toyota Prius and similar hybrids, meet the 2025 standards.  The V6-powered Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Impala or Malibu will have to nearly double current fuel economy levels.  V8 engines such as the one in Chevy SS will disappear.  The manufacturers say they will make extensive use of 4- and 6-cylinder engines and turbocharging to meet the standards.  You may be able to find a V8 engine in a Corvette in 2025, but you’re gonna pay a huge premium for it. 

To meet the new standards, the industry will undertake a decade of development and innovation unmatched in its history.  One top Toyota executive says the auto industry will see more changes in the next 10 years than it has in the previous 100.

And NASCAR is apparently willing to watch the world pass it by.

A better answer to Engine of Tomorrow challenge is right under its nose, in the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship NASCAR controls.   Ford is currently competing in the series with a twin turbo V6 EcoBoost engine that it says takes 70 percent of its parts – including the block, cylinder heads, gaskets and valve train – from its normally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 production engine.  One of the race engines, built by Roush Yates Engines, powered a Chip Ganassi Racing entry to victory in the recent 12 Hours of Sebring.  Honda entered the series at Sebring with a race version of its V6 production engine.

And it’s not just sports car racing.  IndyCar also runs a twin-turbo 2.2-liter V6 engine configuration putting out about 650 horsepower, with engines supplied by both Chevrolet and Honda.  Although Toyota doesn’t currently have a V6 turbo production or race engine, the company says it is committed to bringing them to market in the near future.

NASCAR is certainly aware that virtually every other major racing series has moved to V6 turbo engines.  So why the not join the other series?

It’s all about money.  Of course it is.  Such a dramatic change would be an enormous engineering challenge and hugely expensive.  The manufacturers are already bankrolling the sport to tune of more than $100 million each and reluctant to add to that total 

That’s where NASCAR needs to dip into its $8.2 billion war chest of television dollars to help defray the costs for teams and manufacturers. 

The future relevancy of the NASCAR depends on it.  


  1. Love the sound of the V8.Don't change it.

  2. V6's sound like crap. They are not "fun". I don't care how much air you force through it. If they do that I am done.

  3. News Flash: Nascar isn't a technology driven series. It is a driver's series. No one really cared that they used carbs. If they didn't tell you they went to EFI, would you even have known? Their EFI is different from the stuff we use in normal cars anyway, so who cares?

    Also, you may have (not) noticed that V8 engines are still in production. Mustang, Camaro, trucks, etc. all use them. In fact, GM still uses pushrods! At the end of the day, very little that they do in Nascar with regard to engines is all that applicable to what we do in our everyday cars, so who really cares if they have a 358 or a 305 or a V6? If the racing is entertaining, then Nascar has achieved their goal. Unfortunately, they have a lot of work to do.

  4. Not sure about adding the turbo, mostly because of the motor sound the fans would probably object to loudly. The V-6 is a viable alternative and has been used before in the Busch series. Will it be costly, sure it will. Would it be a step in the right direction, yes it would. But if they do go that route then please revise the rulebook and give the cars back to the crew chiefs and drivers.

  5. If NASCAR goes with a v6 of any type I“ll be done with NASCAR. I’m already close to that point. For me the sound of a V8 is a big part of NASCAR racing. Why would they even think about switching to a 6 cylinder engine? Why not use a smaller V8 engine?

  6. The 2025 CAFE standards will never stick. The next administration (or the one after that) will relax them.

  7. First of all there is no longer such a thing as a V6 Ford Fusion or Chevy Malibu.

    So who's the one who's out of touch Mr. Garner?

  8. Thanks for your comments. Your points are valid. The sound of the V6 twin turbo has certainly been controversial in F1. But like it or not, the auto industry is being forced into smaller engines. Ford is investing heavily into establishing the EcoBoost brand. One day soon we'll wake up and discover the only V8 engines left are in NASCAR race cars.

  9. I'm an Indycar fan as well as a Nascar fan. I've been to five races at Texas Motor Speedway, four of them with the old small-displacement Honda V8s. The sound those little V8s made was GLORIOUS, nothing else in the world compared, it was also incredibly loud, so much so that a SINGLE car going by could make your ears hurt. I bought earplugs (a ritual I repeat 2-3 times a year for the various races I attend), for the Indycar race this past summer (the first I could attend with the new turbo V6 engines); they're still in the package. The new V6 sounds good, but they're way too quiet, my street car is probably louder at wide-open-throttle (V8 Mustang with headers and Dynomax mufflers).

  10. That’s it. The stories say NASCAR is working very closely with the manufacturers on how to make the horsepower cuts, with ideas ranging from reducing the size of the existing V8 engine slightly to the to use of tapered spacers.
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