NASCAR Goes Electric – No, It’s Not What You Think

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

CHICAGO – As part of the festivities during 2024 NASCAR Chicago Street Race event in Chicago this past weekend, NASCAR unveiled a prototype EV.


Let me start this post by assuring you, if you’re an old-school racing fan who can’t stand race cars that don’t roar, that NASCAR is NOT to have its Cup cars go EV. At least not anytime soon.

You may have heard that NASCAR will be replacing the Cup cars with these crossover-looking EVs, but it was pretty clear from the press conference that that’s not the case. Be careful what you believe from social media – and check sources. Perhaps you should pay more attention to a trusted Web site like this one than a random Twitter/X user with a lot of numbers in their username.

Ahem.

Maybe, maybe, NASCAR could run a separate series that’s all-electric, but even that seems a long way off. Officials were quite clear that the announcement of the prototype didn’t mean the announcement of a series and that it didn't mean that any current series was going EV.

It certainly does appear that this prototype is meant to be a test bed for the technology, and nothing more.

NASCAR has worked with ABB, a company that has already been working on electrification in Formula Two racing, and the same OEMs it works with for Cup cars, to develop this prototype. Those OEMs, of course, are Ford, GM, and Toyota. It’s no coincidence that a Mustang Mach-E and Toyota bZ4X and a Chevrolet Blazer EV were parked behind the NASCAR prototype when the cover came off.

The engineers behind this test mule are the same ones who worked on the Next Gen cars and the Garage 56 Le Mans entry.

ABB becomes the first company to officially partner with NASCAR IMPACT, which is a division of NASCAR dedicated to working on community outreach and technology that is more environmentally friendly.

NASCAR IMPACT is also working on an app that will help veterans and service members anonymously seek help for mental-health issues.

NASCAR says it wants to reduce the carbon footprint of its core operations to zero by 2035 – though it also says its “committed to the historic role” of the combustion engine.

The EV prototype has three electric motors – two in the rear and one in front – and a 78 kWh liquid-cooled battery. With electric motors front and rear, it’s all-wheel drive, of course.

Its peak power is 1,000 kW and it has regenerative braking. The chassis a modified version of the Next Gen platform, with the steering, suspension, brakes, and wheels all coming from current Cup cars.

Even if NASCAR keeps the combustion engine alive until either the government forces them to stop using it or it becomes impractical, the company is smart to at least spend some time learning about electrification.

There’s no need to clutch your pearls yet, V8 fans. NASCAR can walk and chew gum at the same time – in this case, learning about racing electric vehicles while still fielding cars that are old-school.

[Images © 2024 Tim Healey/TTAC.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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  • JMII JMII 6 days ago
    What happened to stock car racing? Race on Sunday, sell on Monday? They should cover all the tracks in dirt and race CUVs because its hard to have a series based on cars when nobody builds them anymore. CRASHCAR has becomes a spec series, its totally irrelevant regardless of power train. They already have mandatory breaks during races so using that time to charge up would be fine, plus the fans could refill their beer buckets then too.
  • Luke42 Luke42 6 days ago
    Since I’m interested exclusively in EVs and find ICE vehicles archaic, I expect I’d find EV-racing to be interesting. I want an engineering-focused sportscast with much more electromechanical detail than the simplistic stuff I saw in the NASCAR races I watched back when I was a rural child. NASCAR needs multiple telecasts tailored for specific audiences. Some are just rherefor the noise and the crashes, some are there for the engineering detail, and some are there for the reality-TV personal drama. They won’t be able to capture all of those audiences with the same telecast. Lastly, “let’s go Brandon” stuff steered me away from NASCAR the last time I was interested. I don’t know if EVs will be enough to overcome that, so I don’t know if NASCAR should pursue new audience.
  • THX1136 I would not 'knowingly' purchase a Chinese built or brand. I am somewhat skeptical of actual build quality. What I've seen in other Chinese made products show them to be of low quality/poor longevity. They are quite good at 'copying' a design/product, but often they appear to take shortcuts by using less reliable materials and/or parts. And , yes, I know that is not exclusive to Chinese products. When I was younger 'made in Japan' was synonymous with poor quality (check John Entwistle's tune 'Made in Japan' out for a smile). This is not true today as much of Japan's output is considered very favorably and, in some product types, to be of superior quality. I tend to equate the same notion today for things 'made in China'.
  • Mike Beranek No, but I'm for a world where everyone, everywhere buys cars (and everything else) that are sourced and assembled regionally. Shipping big heavy things all over the planet is not a solution.
  • Jeffrey No not for me at this time
  • El scotto Hmm, my VPN and security options have 12-month subscriptions. Car dealers are not accountable to anyone except the owner. Of course, the dealer principles are running around going "state of the art security!", "We need dedicated IT people!" For the next 12 months. The hackers can wait.
  • El scotto Chip it, NOS it, Wrap it, go buy hipster jeans.
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