The mere suggestion that NASCAR is going to drift away from the hated “Car of Tomorrow” toward something that looks more like a production car has spurred a huge debate among BangShifters. The crux of the debate is how much “stock” is necessary in a “stock car.” Some say merely re-skinning the current NASCAR chassis with factory-dimension sheet metal is enough.
They claim that using production unitized bodies would be too costly and unsafe. These are the “status quo” realists. They seem to live by the motto, if it ain’t that broke, don’t fix it very much.
The pure stock purists counter that stock cars ought to be based on STOCK CARS! They remember the good parts of racing before 1965, when stock really meant STOCK. They are the idealists.
The realists point to the huge investment of NASCAR teams in the COT chassis, the rigors of 200 m.p.h. speedway work, and claim that the romantic longing for “showroom stock” racers is dangerous and misplaced.
One of the “stock appearing” defenders observed “The old stock cars…are ‘stock’…until you remover the floor, the internal bracing, the rear seat to trunk bracing, the frame, the hood inner skin, door inner skins, trunk floor . . . [They were] closer in look to a stocker… but It depends on how you define “old stockcars.”
The idealists counter with examples of successful “touring cars” and sports cars based on unitized production bodies running in various events around the World. They wonder why the current malaise of NASCAR shouldn’t be corrected by going back to the future — back to production cars with necessary safety upgrades.
Who is right?
Perhaps it depends on how we define “stock” and “old stock cars.” Certainly after 1965 or so, the realists’ descriptions of how stock car racing diverged from its production origins is more or less accurate.
But the real question is whether it has to be that way now.
There are a lot of stock car fans who would like to see a return to a more production-based formula, and not just a “stock appearing” formula. Of course a “stock appearing” formula would be about 10,000 times better than anything that’s been happening since about 1985. But adequate safety equipment and durability modifications COULD be made to factory-built RWD “bodies in white.”
Under the right rules package, the factories themselves could be cajoled into building turn-key stockers (such as the Ford Racing Mustang FR500C).
If I had a monopoly of race tracks like Humpy Wheeler or the France family, I’d spec a real, relevant “showroom” stock car series generally as follows:
1. Factory body with a OEM VIN tag required; Body style must be an approved coupe, sedan or station wagon (!) with factory-rated seating capacity of four adults. Minimum government-rated interior volume: 80 cubic feet. Minimum wheelbase: 105 inches. Minimum roof height: 50 inches. Minimum width (excluding mirrors): 72 inches. Bodies will not be approved until OEMs certify that 5,000 NHTSA/EPA certified vehicles using the same factory body specifications have been sold in the United States.
2. All metal factory inner panels and reinforcements must remain stock; front inner fenders may be modified with quick release fasteners and brake ducts.
3. Working doors on stock, unlightened factory hinges required but secured with an FIA/SFI approved safety “deadbolt” system that can be opened in emergencies by track personnel or crews. Factory exterior door handle mechanisms required. Doors may be trimmed for roll cage installation and may not weigh less than five pounds less than production. Window mechanisms may be removed or modified.
4. All factory lamps operating and required, but with racer tape over the headlamps. Axillary lamps allowed for endurance races and rally events.
5. All flammable upholstery removed from the trunk and interior; metal firewall between trunk & interior.
6. Padded safety cage wtih integral FIA/SFI-rated carbon fiber drivers seat pod.
7. Dash panel made/molded in factory shape but out of OEM-supplied non-flammable materials.
8. Suspension and brakes may be upgraded, but modifications must be: (a) sold to the general public & (b) bolt-on to unmodified factory attachment points (factory attachment points may be reinforced and tied into the cage); Weight jacks allowed, but may not be controlled by either the driver or via radio means.
9. Fender bolts may be replaced with quarter-turn fasteners; hood latch must be removed and replaced with hood pins.
10. Hoods must be production stock (no lightning or brace removal) and use production stock hinges, but attachment points may be modified to permit quick replacement of the hood after a collision. FIA-rated hood tether required.
11. Trunk lids must be production stock (no lightning or brace removal) and use production stock hinges. FIA-rated trunk lid tether required.
12. Battery must be relocated to trunk in an approved, remotely-vented battery box with a marked external electrical shut-off; battery must be at least stock size and weight; Minimum battery weight 25 lbs. Battery must be of the same type as stock (e.g. Lead acid, gel cell)
13. Fuel cell must fit in location for stock fuel tank and be isolated from driver’s compartment with a rated metal firewall; refueling point may be relocated from stock for crew safety and must use dry-break coupling; 14 gallons maximum capacity. Factory fuel door must remain stock but may be pinned shut. All fuel lines must be FAA-rated braided line or NHTSA-approved steel and must be isolated from the passenger compartment.
14. Driver-operated fire suppression system for interior and engine required.
15. Five panel Wink-type mirror required.
16. Minimum ground clearance at rest: 4.”
17. Minimum ground clearance with bumpstops compressed: 2.8″
18. Telemetry allowed but no system may be remote-controlled through telemetry system. Sanctioning body may spot-monitor and/or record telemetry feed.
19. OEM transmission (as installed in at least sold 5,000 units of that make and model) required; cooling pump and cooler retrofit allowed. Cooler must be isolated from the driver. No lightening of case or internal transmission components allowed. Gears must be stock ratios but may be upgraded for materials, tooth pitch and/or to eliminate or improve the syncronizers. All modifications must use only kits from the OEM or advertised and sold to the general public. $3,500 transmission claimer rule.
20. OEM V8 (as installed in at least sold 5,000 units of that make and model) required; Maximum displacement: 5.2 liters (318 CID) V8s less than 2.5 liters may use OEM turbocharging and/or supercharging with maximum manifold pressure (regulated by a CART-type pop-off valve and intake restrictor diameter set for parity with 5-5.2 liter engines). Turbochargers and/or superchargers must bolt on to factory manifolding and be stock OEM or a nationally advertised and sold to the general public for a maximum price of no more than $2,000 MSRP. Aluminum charge coolers must be OEM sold to the general public for a maximum price of no more than $800 MSRP. All forced induction cars must carry intake manifold pressure transponder supplied by the sanctioning body. Four and six cylinder engines are not allowed. Remote-mounted turbochargers allowed if OEM (5,000 units sold). Nitrous oxide not allowed.
21. Engine block, heads, main caps, and crank must be OEM production with factory part numbers. Intake and exhaust manifolds must have CARB EO number. Location(s) of the camshaft(s) must be OEM production. Cam bearings must fit in an unmodified OEM engines of the same make and type. Carburation/fuel injection must be of OEM style for that make and model but may be upgraded with parts available to the general public. Heads may not flow more that 5% greater than a randomly-selected production cylinder head with the same part number(tested at 28″ water). All valve positions, angles, port heights and port opening dimensions must be stock. Stock factory gaskets must fit and seal up all surfaces at teardown/verification test, but aftermarket gaskets are allowed. Factory stock dry sump allowed if OEM in 5,000 units of that make and model; otherwise wet sump oiling system may be modified with an three quart accumulator, enhanced pickups, and an enlarged pan. Oil cooler must be added to all oiling systems. One remote oil filter allowed with a capacity of no more than one quart of oil. Piston oil cooling allowed if OEM or done with an approved, nationally-advertised and sold bolt-on kit. Pistons must be forged aluminum. Titanium and aluminum rods not allowed. All bearings must be of OEM-type. $25,000 engine claimer rule.
22. Hood scoops allowed if OEM on 5,000 units of that make and model; otherwise air intake may be ducted to radiator support or cowl vent.
23. OEM rear axle may be upgraded to any bolt-in axle that’s advertised and sold nationally to the general public; differential may be open, limited slip, locker, electric locker or any combination thereof. No spools or welded/permanently locked gears. $2,500 axle claimer rule.
24. Operating OEM windshield wipers required.
25. Functioning defroster system, modified to isolate coolant from driver, required.
26. Operable air conditioning system encouraged to reduce driver fatigue and improve safety (non air conditioned cars will be afforded a 400# weight penalty with ballast located at points specified in the rules). Evaporator condensation must be captured in a one-gallon catch tank and drained on each pit stop. Compressor may be driven electrically or through driveline power take-off. Compressor must be operating at all times the ambient air temperature is over 80 degrees farenheit (no compressor cycling — temperature regulated by aftermarket expansion valve set and sealed by race stewards before the event). Driver may regulate passenger compartment temperature by: (a) closing off air vents, (b) increasing ventilation, (c) adding heat through the defroster system. Air conditioning system pressure will be spot-monitored via telemetry transponder supplied by the sanctioning body. Loss of pressure or system malfunction requires car to be parked until system is repaired.
27. Cars must be currently registered and tagged and be legal for highway use at the promoter’s option with the addition of a bolt-on exhaust system.
28. Minimum weight: 3300 lbs.
29. Fuel: Unleaded pump gasoline RON MON/2 = 93 octane supplied from sanctioning body pump. Water-Alcohol injection allowed. Supplemental Direct ethanol injection allowed if factory-equipped (direct ethanol injected engines intake restricted to parity with non-direct ethanol. Water-alcohol/ethanol tanks must be trunk mounted and are limited to three gallons. Tank may be refilled on pit stops. All other fuels and fuel additives, including without limitation methanol, nitromethane, hydrazine not allowed.
30. Bumper systems may be modified to increase stiffness and remove plastic/foam inner structure. Bumper shocks may be replaced with rigid spacers. Nerf bars and bumper guards may be added if rigidly affixed to the crash structure.
31. Hybrid electric assist and/or KERS systems allowed if OEM (5,000 vehicle minimum) or from a bolt-on kit that is nationally advertised and sold for no more than $7,000 MSRP. Maximum assist/KERS voltage: 400 volts. Maximum total electric assist motor horsepower: 40. Driver must manually control regenrative braking and electrical assist functions.
32. Aerodynamic aids (air dams, wings, spoilers, side skirts) — OEM devices (5,000 vehicle minimum) allowed for a particular model at the discretion of the sanctioning body. Air dams may not be lower than the minimum clearance height. In lieu of OEM rear downforce producing devices, a five-inch blade aluminum spoiler may be bolted to the trunk lid with a minimum attack angle of 33 degrees. No aerodynamic aids may be adjustable from the driver’s compartment. Roof rails and roof flaps must be added for venues with top speeds in excess of 150 m.p.h.
33. Wheels: DOT/SFI/FIA approved wheels no larger than 17″x8″ with minimum of five one-inch lug attachment. Minimum bolt circle: 4 1/2″. Allowed wheel materials are steel or forged aluminum. No magnesium or cast wheels. Wheel and tire package must fit in OEM fenderwell with only minor clearancing (e.g. rolling or removal of fender lip). Minimum wheel weight: 20 lbs. All wheels must be OEM (5000 vehicle minimum) or nationally advertised and sold to the general public for no more than $200/wheel MSRP. Wheel claimer rule: $880/set of four.
34. Equalization rule: No vehicle may have have a power-to-weight ratio of less than 5.83 pounds per horsepower (including electrical assist/KERS), as checked on a inertia chassis dynomometer in direct drive gear.
These cars would be raced in a series which includes events on paved and dirt ovals, drag strips, road courses, closed public streets (rally special stages) and other events.
COMMENTERS: If you object to any of these rules, cite the number and state what you’d change in your own stock car series.