Time changes all things and for the main American tintop category, NASCAR, 2021 brings some substantial changes. Here’s a look at a few of what should be on track in 2021.
The construction material is changing from steel to the lighter “aluminum”. The rolling diameter will increase, from 15 to 18 inches, with tyre sidewalls decreasing, however the width will increase.
What this means for handling is a stiffer sideway, and a resultant lessening of the “slippage”, the sliding if you will, of the tyres as the cars make their way around the circuits.
A major change here is the move from five individual locknuts, or lugs, to a one central hub lug. This will speed up the time it takes for a wheel change when required.
It seems that the chassis for each car and team will now come from the one supplier. Call it a formula chassis, with all teams having the same base to work from, being a solid rear axle mounted in a composite material tub. The design changes look to have the driver more centrally mounted, enhancing the safety factor here.
By the way, a significant change for the rear is a move to independent, not a live, suspension. This also changes the handling characteristics and will bring a realignment of the setup for racing.
By moving to a composite body, it will lessen the requirement to bring out the hammers to straighten bent steel panels. The design is said to allow for quicker and easier replacement of body parts as they’ll be more of a “remove and insert block” to repair. It’ll reduce overall costs too, including aero testing as the cars move towards a more common overall shape.
This includes a frontal design with a two part splitter that funnels air into an underbody tunnel, exiting via a standard look diffuser. The idea here is to improve stability whilst drafting, the nose to tail aspect of NASCAR that heightens the excitement level for spectators, and tests the fortitude of drivers.
In context this brings a commonality with virtually every other type of mainstream high level racing. In a specific view, refuelling will move to the clamp-on nozzle system rather than a manually wrestled container.
Air powered jacks to raise and lower the bodies will do away with the manual lever jacks. In a race situation there’s some truly frantic efforts to locate and pump a jack. By adding in the virtually foolproof air jack system, the potential for a car to hit the floor and trap a leg or arm is gone.
NASCAR has stayed with a tried and proven four speed manual transmission for decades. That’s on the way out and will be replaced by a standard six speed sequential manual, not unlike that found in Supercars.
Test driver Erik Jones enthused: “The shifting has been fun, it’s been different. I’ve never done anything other than normal H-pattern shifting in my career. You can bang right through the gears; we did a restart at the end of the day yesterday and it was fun learning about that and how you can push that gear box. That really gets you excited for the road courses and what it’s going to be capable of there.”
At the time of writing, the big ol’ V8s that NASCAR has had for years will stay. The signature growls and whine that make up such an integral part of NASCAR will remain. For 2021.
Talk in the paddock for 2022 centres on hybridisation, and given the current manufacturers list has GM in the form of Chevrolet’s Camaro, Ford’s Mustang, and the big hybrid name, Toyota (Camry bodyshell), it makes plenty of sense for the move to the electrically based system.
And given the push towards a more formula driven series, this change too would have any hybrid addition a common addition across the field.
It’s been discussed as to which configuration the engines would be as well. It’s almost certain to be a Vee, but whether there are six or eight is some time off from being ascertained.
What are your thoughts on the mooted changes for NASCAR and which, if any, would you like to see in Supercars? Drop us a line via our socials or feedback options.