Keselowski calls for F1-style hybrid NASCAR V8

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This headline caught my attention. The reason is that I’ve done “the double” a couple of times with Shell and when I was in the pit lane at the Coco-Cola 600, the sound and power was stunning. Reminded me of the old days of Formula 1. In fact, it was nothing short of massively impressive.

Formula 1 decided that hybrid was the direction it wanted to go in and now NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski thinks that NASCAR should too.

Obviously, that’s a bit of a no-brainer since there’s already hybrids on the road, but there aren’t really hybrids in racing. The closest thing out there currently is in Formula 1, and for reasons I’ll explain, it’s not that popular with fans.

But that doesn’t mean that hybrids aren’t the future of racing. In fact, not only am I sure that hybrids are the future of NASCAR—I believe it’s essential to the success of the sport that we embrace hybrid technology as soon as possible.

I was keen to see what Brad thought about F1’s current situation with hybrids is. He reckons it is KERS and a smaller engine that has damaged F1’s current brand and spoke to some fans who said as much. Here’s Brad’s take:

“Back in March, I was at a fan event before the Las Vegas race, and noticed that there were a lot of international fans in attendance. I wound up talking to people from Germany, Ireland and Australia—where, incidentally, the Formula 1 race season was about to begin. I asked them why they were in Vegas instead of back home, heading to the Formula 1 race.

“We don’t go to F-1 races any more. We don’t like the cars,” they explained. “They don’t sound right. They’ve switched from big engines to small engines, and that made the cars too quiet. They sound like vacuum cleaners.”

That’s one of the factors of the kinetic energy recovery system—called KERS—that’s used by Formula 1 vehicles. KERS takes the energy from braking, charges it into a battery pack, and then returns it to the cars when they need extra power. The idea behind it was to reduce costs, but going to a smaller engine was a big mistake.”

Now, he has the KERS down and I think there is a component of the MGU-H that also plays a large role in this but let’s table that for a moment as F1 seems to be trying to move away from that in 2021. F1 did move to a smaller 1.6 liter turbo V6. Brad argues for something completely different in NASCAR.

“The NASCAR KERS system will supply the cars with a small extra reserve of electric energy—almost like having a nitrous button—that would give drivers a boost of power whenever they need it. When maxed out, that extra boost could last a full lap or two, and it could be used in two different ways: either as a substitute for gas power, or to complement it.

In addition, to make sure that drivers have to use the KERS system, the new NASCAR hybrid would have a 10-gallon fuel tank—basically, half of its current size. This would make the cars harder to drive, which I think as a race car driver, is never a bad thing. Race cars should be hard to drive. Without having the fuel to spare, racers also would be forced to use the electric system throughout races, both in critical and non-critical situations. It’s not hard to imagine what it would do to teams’ strategies throughout each race.

In terms of the racing, I think it would be incredible. Today, our cars have a max of about 750 horsepower. Potentially, a hybrid would have almost 1,000 horsepower with the KERS system and the V8 combined. They would get up to speed immediately.”

How do you think NASCAR fans would react? Would they care if there is still a roaring V8? Would F1 fans have cared if the V8 was retained but the KERS was used any time the driver wanted and the fuel load was less (which would require refueling…which the FIA is not keen on).

I’ll link his blog at the bottom so go check it out. He lays out a few scenarios and explains his thinking. If what I read about NASCAR’s waning viewers, I wonder if this would help or hurt.

For me, there seems to be two sides. In F1, they say that hybrids are what all the fans want, the manufacturers want and the inevitable future of mobility and it’s only logical and by the way, fans also don’t want grid girls and don’t care about the “noise” of the engine. The reaction to every one of those things that I have seen has been overwhelmingly negative. Young and old fans alike. Would hybrids bring a throng of young fans to NASCAR? What do you think?

Hat Tip: Brad Keselowski

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sunny stivala
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sunny stivala

What Brad Keselowski is talking about (the addition of KERS) to an ICE doesn’t make a hybrid system. KERS + ICE doesn’t make a hybrid. A hybrid system makes a power unit, a hybrid power unit have two engines, an ICE and an electric engine. The system is designed as a unit and the two works together not when the driver wants one added to the other. Hybridization avoids the large trade-off between power and efficiency of a pure ICE (ENGINE). The ICE (engine) future lays in its electrification/hybridization, without which the ICE is as good as dead.

Member

Actually, Brad’s idea sounds intriguing. But it will never fly with NASCAR from the board room down to the fans. Manufacturers and teams will complain about costs and the complexity of such a combination. And NASCAR would worry about rampant cheating by the teams with a such a complex dose of technology in the cars. Look how long it took NASCAR to radial tires, unleaded gasoline and most recently, electronic fuel injection. NASCAR’s declining popularity problem is the same as Detroit’s problem with new cars sales: there’s a rising generation of Americans who are not car-centric. Loading...

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Fast Freddy

NASCAR just got fuel injection a few years ago. So it’s going to be a long time before any radical change like this is going to happen.

Nigel
Guest

But why? Why, because hybrids are on the road, do we have to have them in racing? I am so sick and tired of this bloody “road relevant” argument! The truth is motorsport fans are embarrassed. They are so embarrassed by their own sport that they have to argue that it is “relevant” for road cars……but why do we care? Can’t we just have racing to go racing? You don’t hear tennis fans having to defend the relevancy of their sport, why do we? It is as if motorsport fans can’t sleep at night unless their sport is “contributing” something… Read more »

subcritical71
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subcritical71

Oh, for the love of god and all things holy, do not go down this rabbit hole. Learn from F1 in this regard! Racing will never be ‘green’ or road relevant, get over it. As for bringing new fans, 40 years ago there were a handful of sports that could be viewed remotely (ie. TV). Today there is much more entertainment jockeying for those same eyeballs, the population has grown but I think there is proportionately less eyes balls available to each ‘sport’. Hell you can watch people race drones and simulators today. My point being is there are no… Read more »

Rapierman
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Rapierman

I find it surprising that any NASCAR driver worth his salt, much less Keselowski, would actually advocate for this. There are three problems this idea faces: The series is mostly dependent on a standard engine that produces around 600 to 750 bhp. I don’t think anyone wants that much more. I’ve heard a lot from said drivers about how things are going too fast to be safe anyway. Remember that NASCAR just started touching the 200 MPH mark on the longer tracks, even going above 210. The only things that are faster are IndyCar (220+) and Formula 1. Even the… Read more »

Member

Nascar won’t be relevant much longer. It built itself up on a unsustainable model: Cheap thrills and drivers(personalities) that aren’t going to be around forever. The beauty of F1 is it always changes with the times no matter how many traditionalists we have to drag along. The problem for Nascar is the changes that need to happen to keep it relevant in the 21st century will kill off a huge chunk of its audience. I can’t see the south being OK with hybrids. However, like or not big time racing is a manufacturers playground. Eventually Toyota, GM and Ford are… Read more »

KL15
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KL15

You’re right, NASCAR will not be relevant for much longer, but I personally am not sure that the model is the cause of the issue. It seems that, as you put it, cheap thrills and driver personalities carried the day for over fifty years and that likely would have continued had not the massive overcorrection by the sanctioning body after the death of Dale Earnhardt not occurred. NASCAR prided itself on its lack of technology. Consider this, fuel injection just made it to its speedways in 2012. The idea seemed to be this was the racing series for the average… Read more »

Member

I was just thinking how cool would it be if they merged with Australia’s Supercars series? They’re already ditched the V8 in their name. They would have to sprinkle in a few more road courses of course. Even DTM is remored to be merging with Japan’s Super GT. It’s going to be a bumpy road for sure.

Tom Firth
Editor

Ahh Class One! Yes, the DTM-SuperGT regulation platform that has never quite aligned fully. They’ve shared a lot of the chassis technical regulations including common components for a number of years, we’ve had photo and on track exhibitions of both series manufacturers on track together and yet still its a bit off happening. DTM I believe are planning to finally shift their engine platform over to that of SuperGT’s from next season, which DTM pushed back a couple of years ago and as far as I know, some dispute exists around the direction of the aero regulation platform between the… Read more »

Tom Firth
Editor

Meanwhile as regards Australia, Australian Supercars have dropped the V8 name but not the V8 engine and Holden have ceased development of the V6TT unit it was developing but are still using a new for 2018 car platform based off the European Vauxhall Insignia, whilst Ford are throwing a bit of factory support behind the series again and coming back with a Mustang platform. Nissan are meanwhile pulling out after a pretty mediocre effort the past few years in the series. It would be cool in theory to see them merge regulations with NASCAR so NASCAR got cars perhaps that… Read more »

Member

Cheers Tom, I didn’t know Holden had out the V6TT on hold. They did a demo run a wee while back, with Greg Murphy driving and he was really impressed.
But I understand that Holden are having a run of success with the V8 engine in the current chassis and ‘Insignia/Commodore’ body, which is helping to ‘sell on Monday’. They need that because the sales of Holden’s have plummeted now production of the Aussie built Commodore has stopped.
Not sure what that says about road relevance :-)

meine
Member
meine

Yeah, go for it!

Welcome to this century :-)