With automotive corporations more and more distancing themselves from inner combustion engines in favour of hybrid or fully-electric powertrains, NASCAR has discovered itself in a quandary over its use of V8 engines whereas making an attempt to keep up relevance to potential new OEMs (authentic tools producers) coming into the sequence.
Since Dodge withdrew from Cup on the finish of the 2012 season, discussions with potential new producers to affix Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota have been commonplace, however such talks haven’t led to any firm committing to enter the sequence.
“I might be shocked if a brand new OEM got here in with out some type of electrification, and I’m not speaking about all electrical, I’m speaking a couple of hybrid system,” Phelps defined forward of this weekend’s season-opening Daytona 500. “It’s clearly one thing we’re exploring proper now with our present three OEMs. The query is what’s it, and what’s the timing of it?
“I don’t have both of these solutions at this level, though [senior vice president of racing innovation] John Probst and [chief racing development officer] Steve O’Donnell plus the OEMs and our engine-builders are all engaged on that proper now.
“I don’t foresee a time sooner or later the place we’d go to – all of our sequence – would go to all-electric, I don’t see that. Might we’ve got an exhibition sequence probably? We may. And that will be one thing that we would discover.”
Phelps additionally believes that NASCAR is now “in a greater place” to draw new producers, believing that this was not the case within the current previous.
“I consider new OEMs and the relevance of this sport, and the place this sport now ranks by way of the sports activities leisure panorama, it’s simply so totally different from the place it was a yr in the past, two years in the past, three years in the past,” he mentioned. “With that, in addition to the Subsequent Gen automotive popping out subsequent yr, I feel there may be going to be some renewed curiosity from an OEM perspective.”
He additionally added that the COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t hit automotive producers fairly as onerous as they’d initially feared.
“I feel all of the OEMs final yr had been form of in survival mode and making an attempt to determine how they bought a number of automobiles, but it surely was a troublesome interval for them,” he mentioned. “They most likely did higher than they thought they had been going to do when COVID began, and that half is rewarding, however as issues get again to regular, we’ll proceed to ramp up our discussions with OEMs.”
Chris Buescher drives the NASCAR Subsequent gen automotive
Photograph by: NASCAR Media
Because the automotive and world financial system takes time to get well from the impression of the pandemic, decreasing prices might be an essential issue for any producer embarking on a brand new racing programme, with Phelps of the opinion that the Gen-7 Cup automotive in growth might be a constructive in the long term for the sequence.
“There are various issues that Subsequent Gen will do for us as a sport when it rolls out in 2022,” he defined. “The styling goes to be superb. I feel the racing goes to be higher based mostly on the aerodynamics of the automobile, the prices related to the automobile might be decrease by way of its absolute prices in addition to the numbers of automobiles it is going to be essential to run and run up entrance.
“These are all wins for us. One of many issues that I challenged the trade to do was to proceed to maneuver as one firm, one entity with one voice and the trade is doing that.
“Racetracks that we’ve got invited [for discussions] that aren’t our racetracks, the connection we’ve got with our groups, our OEMs, our broadcast companions, it simply has by no means been higher. The belief exists at present versus the place we had been two years in the past, three years in the past it was in a really totally different place.
“The momentum form of feeds on itself.”