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NASCAR's new ideas are quite thought-provoking...which may be just the point

  Legendary crew chief Dale Inman (R) and Hall of Fame boss Winston Kelly (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   Fuel injection in NASCAR?
   That's nothing new, legendary crew chief Dale Inman points out: "We ran it in 1957, fuel injection in Chevrolets…and the Olds had three two-barrel carburetors, and the Fords ran McCulloch blowers."
   That experiment didn't last long, though, Inman said.
   But now the issue of NASCAR possibly changing from long-traditional engine carburetors (originally invented back in the 1880s) to fuel-injection systems is front-and-center in the stock car garage.
   Good question.
   Think 'optics.'
   Think 'image.'
   Think 'big picture.'
   Yes, out on American streets, the last cars using carburetors were 1991 Ford Crown Victoria police cars, and fuel injection has become the standard.
    But of all the issues facing NASCAR today, carburetors would seem to be far, far, far down the list…if even on it. It's been a non-issue.
   Until now.
   It was a topic raised by NASCAR at an August 4th meeting with officials, team owners and engine builders, along with the possibility of alternative fuels, such as E-85 ethanol and even propane.
   And owners were told to study those issues and more and be prepared for another meeting later this year.
   Green, for one. Image – NASCAR reducing its carbon-footprint.
   Image too in making the sport appear more up-to-date in technology (though in fact NASCAR engines are highly sophisticated). That might help attract hipper, younger demographics, perhaps, and maybe even more car makers, like Honda, BMW and VW.

  Rethinking NASCAR engines. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   And an even bigger picture angle to this story was being raised among several top NASCAR engine builders here – raising the prospect that two or three years down the road these current 358 c.i. specialized racing engines might be dropped entirely, with a switch to racing engines that are more closely akin to real street motors, like in the Mustangs, Corvettes and Camaros.
   That possibility would seem to show that NASCAR is indeed watchful of the goings-on in Detroit and looking at ways for this sport to become more closely aligned with what real people drive out on the streets.
   While this engine study is going on, NASCAR and team owners are also pondering what to do with the proposed new Nationwide car-of-tomorrow. That car, originally, was to have debuted this season, but the economy pushed that timetable back.
   Now NASCAR is looking at running the new Nationwide model in only two to four events next season, the road courses and Daytona-Talladega, possibly beginning at Daytona in July. Again the U.S. economy and the financial problems plaguing NASCAR team owners are stymieing things.
    Toyota's Elton Sawyer, though, suggests NASCAR, rather should look at pushing the new Nationwide model at the sport's mid-sized tracks, "because those are the places we do most of our racing."

   When will the new Nationwide COT debut? Maybe not till Daytona next July. (Photo: Ford)

   Dodge's stance on NASCAR and fuel injection? "I think it makes sense. Every production car in the world uses it, so it would make sense for us to transition to it, eventually," Dodge field director Howard Comstock says. "Realistically I don't see it happening (in NASCAR) in 2010; but I do see 2010 as a development year.
   "It is more fuel efficient…and that is a big thing everywhere. And it's modern technology; so you could relate these cars to street cars a little better.
   "We haven't run any yet, but we know what's commercially available, and our engine group has looked at it. We just haven't had the opportunity to run it; but if they say run it, there's no reason we couldn't put a system together.
   "However not many of the other series have the horsepower we have here, so some people may underestimating the development you would need to do, to make it reliable. That's part of what makes this series work, that these cars are reliable."

  If fuel injection, why not catalytic converters too? Jack Roush isn't laughing (Photo: Autostock)

   While NASCAR executives ponder the issue of fuel-injected engines, as a paean to the modern era of street cars and those that drive them, why not consider emissions controls and catalytic converters too?
   That subject didn't go over very well in the NASCAR garage, to say the least.
   But then just what is coming out the exhaust pipes of these race cars anyway? After all here at this 160,000-seat half-mile oval, with grandstands that tower hundreds of feet into the sky, it's a wonder that carbon monoxide fumes and what-all doesn't gag crews after a long weekend.
    Ford's Jack Roush may be one of the country's foremost experts on catalytic converters, though that arm of Roush Industries:
   "Catalytic converters would be a terrible thing to have on a race car," Roush said.
   "There would be a safety hazard, a fire hazard. There would be a lot of problems.
   "One of the reasons you have catalytic converters on highway cars is because every time you start an engine cold you have an emissions problem….and to get in 500 miles on a highway car, it may take a lot of cold starts. We don't have that problem here, because we start the engines one time and then run the race.
   "And our race cars would have to be redesigned in how air flows under the car, because the number of BTUs a catalytic converter would hold would create a huge safety problem.
   "I don't think anybody sees the need for that, or interest in having that done any time soon."

  Remember when NASCAR stockers ran 426s, 427s, 429s.....and, hehe, sometimes 454s? Maybe it's time to warm up to a new era of NASCAR engines (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



NASCAR never had engines over

NASCAR never had engines over 427 cubic inches. That is 7 litres and that was the limit. That, also, is the reason that Chevrolet and Ford both had 427s. It was also the reason Chrysler had the 426 cubic inch hemi.

Ford Boss 429 1969? Cale

Ford Boss 429 1969? Cale Yarborough, March 30-1969, Mercury Cyclone Atlanta? And didn't Richard Brickhouse win at Talladega with a 429 Dodge?

At what point does NASCAR

At what point does NASCAR stop caring what the ecofascists think? The carbon footprint argument is myth rather than reality. The reality is the environment is not now and never was in any danger from Man - global warming is myth, pollution is oversold, the environment is portrayed as delicate and fragile when in fact is is brutally tough and robust. The whole push for alternative fuels etc. is based on myth - "fossil fuels" aren't going anywhere; in fact we keep discovering more and more of it, and from sources both likely and unlikely as oil sands.

No one has provided a credible reason for dropping carburated 358 pushrod engines. The facts are manifest -

1 - They work.

2 - They're robust.

3 - They're reliable.

4 - Comparatively speaking, they're easier to police than more high-tech engines.

5 - Technology for its own sake has never made racing better. Costs and ridiculous performance levels led to the banning of Wankel engines and a slew of technological items over the decades.

The Car Of Tomorrow concept failed at the Winston Cup level and even though this BGN model looks better it still has a gapped airdam and less-than-reliable roofline. And why race Mustangs when NASCAR is about Thunderbirds, Monte Carlos, Charger/Intrepids, and Solara/Camrys?

NASCAR is in need of 50 lead changes per race a lot more than it needs ecofascism or to switch from present-day engines.

Looks like somebody has been

Looks like somebody has been watching fox news.

It's called the real world,

It's called the real world, Chris.

At what point does NASCAR

At what point does NASCAR stop caring what the ecofascists think?
When the ecofascists leave the White House and sell GM back to it's rightful owners.

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