According to leaked documents that showed up on an unnamed forum and then at Kickin’ the Tires, NASCAR is about to plug in. Pages from some kind of presentation lay out a phased plan to create a battery-electric racing series starting with demo races using prototype EVs as soon as next year.
The documents say the first demonstration is planned for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum next February in Los Angeles. That would be the appetizer for a potential run of races in Q3 fielding 12 EVs per event at six tracks that are “likely aligned with Cup Series events.” The NASCAR race weekends chosen would host two EV races, one Saturday, on Sunday, each 30 minutes. There’d be no charging or car swaps, and pit stops would be limited to swapping tires or making repairs.
NASCAR’s been working its way to this future for more than 10 years, and the regulations guiding the New Generation (NG) race car introduced this year had electric powertrains in mind. Swapping the NG front and rear clips would make room for the EV powertrain, with no need to change the current suspension and brakes. The current rear transaxle area was designed to accommodate an electric motor.
Series leaders want the EVs to demonstrate the segment’s technology and match lap times of the current ICE cars. The cars envisioned now would run common powertrains built with 900-volt architectures, utilizing three ultra-high-power motors to turn both axles with more than 1,000 total horsepower. That’s right, 1,000-hp all-wheel-drive battery-powered NASCAR rides.
It’s thought the demo weekends will take place on road courses or short ovals with heavy braking, with the regen systems on the demo cars able to produce 200 kilowatts. And naturally, a championship that has made V8 roaring as much of its signature as yellow flags and crashing will be working hard to figure out the right sounds for cars to make.
Going all-in with the experimental phase, in fact, the documents indicate NASCAR will be open to manufacturers — Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota at the moment — running with bodies that mimic their EV offerings. This is 100% speculation, but instead of silhouettes of the Camaro, Mustang, and Camry, we could see the lines of the Blazer EV, Mustang Mach-E, and bZ4X running hot laps.
Speaking of manufacturers, rumor for a while now has put Dodge back in the NASCAR field. It’s possible that the Dodge electric muscle car we might get a glimpse of in prototype form next month will feature as part of the next year’s demonstrations.
When Kickin’ the Tires sought comment from America’s most popular racing series, the response was, “As we have mentioned in the past, we are exploring the potential for an EV demonstration series. We are currently working with our OEM partners and race teams as the program progresses.”
If all went to plan as laid out, stock car racing would experiment during 2023 and 2024 then get an electric series running for real come 2025. Since we’re dealing with leaked documents that indicate we’re eight months away from the first potential EV race, we won’t be surprised if plans and dates change. Series COO Steve O’Donnell said, “If we are going to get into an electric space, I promise you it will be entertaining and it will be something that fits into our portfolio and something our fans will be proud of.” It will probably take time and tweaking to get the thing right, but it’s coming.