NASCAR Car of Tomorrow
After the tragic death of one of NASCAR’s racing legends, Dale Earnhardt Sr, in 2001 at the Daytona 500, NASCAR starting putting their efforts towards designing a new car- the NASCAR Car of Tomorrow (“COT”). The design and testing period has taken five years to ensure that the car was safer and more cost efficient than the cars previously raced. In 2006, the NASCAR Car of Tomorrow rolled onto the circuit for the first time, ready to be put through its paces.
Brett Bodine, former driver and current Director of Cost for NASCAR, had the opportunity to test drive the COT. With a lap time of 48.19 seconds and a top speed of 186.760, the future for the NASCAR Car of Tomorrow looked extremely bright. While testing the COT against other NASCAR cars, designers and engineers have been able to ensure the safety of the driver, and that of the cars driving in the leading cars’ wake turbulence. The new design should make passing other cars and driving next to each other much safer than in the past.
In regard to the safety of the COT, the new car has had adjustments made to its roll cage. The roll cage has been heightened by two inches, widened by four and moved three inches back. Improvements have also been made to the cars’ integrity with better construction protected against intrusions into the cockpit and the “G” forces that these cars experience have been dramatically reduced.
Another improvement was made to the position of the driver’s seat. With the drivers’ seat being moved to the right by four inches and the door bars being reinforced by steel plating, the drivers’ safety has been increased. Lower fuel volumes have been introduced, suspension changes, bumper heights have been made to match and floor plan configurations have all been adjusted to ensure the safety of the sport. Fire protection has also been increased and many of these changes will lead to great reductions in cost to racing team owners. The COT has also been installed with a windshield that closely resembles that of a street car, which forces the cars to move at a slower speed due to the car not being as aerodynamic as its predecessors.
After making its debut at Bristol Race Track, there were many favorable reactions to the COT, but mostly the drivers were impressed with its performance. For 2007, the NASCAR Car of Tomorrow will take part in sixteen events, and in twenty-six events during the 2008 season. It may take some time getting used to the COT on the track, but it is a car that was not only designed to win races, but to protect the drivers and enhance the popularity and safety of NASCAR sanctioned races for spectators, drivers and auto racing teams.