Author: Dawson Haywood
Two years ago NASCAR promised fans to produce more modern racecars to put on the race track. The last time the organization produced new vehicles was in 2013, and even then there fans were not pleased because there was not much updating to the vehicles and before 2013 vehicles were last updated in 2007. The new generation of vehicles will be the seventh generation of vehicles produced by NASCAR and there are a lot of changes made that fans will be pleased with moving forward.
If you have not already, the first thing that you will notice about the car is the overall appearance. Engineers of the next gen vehicles, team owners, and NASCAR executives wanted to come back to making the vehicles more like stock vehicles. For those that do not know, a stock vehicle is an ordinary car that has been modified for racing. In the previous generation of vehicles produced cars put onto the field were all very similar regardless of the make and model. With the new generation it is easier to differentiate the make and model of these vehicles.
Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet are sticking with the same models used in the previous generation. Toyota with the Camry, Ford with the Mustang and Chevy with the Camaro. With the rebirth of the Toyota Supra, Toyota loyalist have questioned why the company has not made the move to put the Toyota Supra in the NASCAR Cup Series and move the Camry to the Xfinity Series. Driver of the #11 Camry, Denny Hamlin's comment to that question is "I think we've been doing okay with it". Toyota has had a driver win three of the last six Cup Series Championships with the Camry.
This generation of vehicles will significantly change the sport both on and off the track. It has been stated that the vehicles will be harder to drive and will need to take another level of skill to be successful. Because of this in the first few seasons of the vehicles being on the track it is likely that the skill gap between racers will be significantly wider as drivers begin navigating how to operate the racecar. It is possible that some successful drivers struggle with the new vehicles and teams will look to replace them with drivers that do not struggle. The sport could see a surge of new drivers entering in the coming years.
With each new generation of vehicles that NASCAR produces comes a new opportunity for new owners to come into the sport. Each current team will hit the reset button at the conclusion of this season and begin shifting their focus on how they can make the new cars optimal for racing. New teams that come in will have the same amount of experience with the new vehicles as teams that have been in the sport for a while.
Along with new owners, new drivers, and a new vehicle development team the production of next gen vehicles also opens the door for new car manufacturers to enter the sport. There is rumor that manufacturers such as Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, Kia, and Dodge start doing business with NASCAR. With new teams potentially coming into the sport we may see a new team with a new manufacturer enter the series next season.
Unfortunately for the employees of teams that are already established, with new vehicles comes a new demand for new resources, including engineers and car builders. Employees that have been in the business developing these vehicles since 2013, like the drivers, may find themselves struggle to meet the demands of the team with the development of these vehicles. Luckily for the employees that do work on the vehicle a lot of the development was done through current developers, so this may not be as big of a deal as I am making it.
For my car nuts who wonder what goes on under the body, there are a lot of changes that have been made to the vehicle beyond appearance. The vehicles are built on a newly developed carbon fiber chassis, will include a floor mounted six-speed transmission, independent rear suspension, wider and softer tires, and several safety enhancements. Each of the new next gen vehicles will produce around 700 horsepower.
With the development of the next gen vehicles it is no surprise that the sport of NASCAR is heading into the right direction to grab the attention of a new audience. The sport will be significantly more competitive than in previous seasons with the skill gap, new owners, new drivers, and potentially new manufacturers. Hendrick, Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress should be scared as new players come into the field to compete. Toyota, Chevy, and Ford also need to be scared if other manufacturers decide to have some level of association with the sport. Regardless of if you are a NASCAR fan or not, if you have the slightest interest in vehicles, or maybe you drive a Ford and like to beef with Chevy owners, this upcoming season is going to expose a lot about teams, drivers, developers and the kind of cars they drive so pick who you root for wisely.