Friday, October 23, 2009
Not so fast, Ford
This should be an exciting time in NASCAR. Ford is debuting a new engine for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama in a couple of weeks and it should be the buzz of the motor sports world.
But to be totally honest, there’s not much to be excited about.
It’s not going to make the cars any faster, not going to increase acceleration or handling or speed.
The new FR9 engine is going to make the Ford cars more reliable. That’s great… for a car pool.
Doug Yates is one of the people leading the development of the new Ford engine. He said the new engine will put the Ford teams on a level playing field with the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams.
“Right out of the box the engine is really impressive power-wise,” Yates said. “We feel like it’s going to give us some advantages aerodynamically where, perhaps, we can tape the cars up more and run the engines hotter.”
Aerodynamics are extremely important for stock cars, especially right now when about the only advantage a Cup team can find is in its aerodynamic package. At a track like Talladega, where drafting has become more vital than speed and horsepower, aerodynamics are pretty much all that matters for the top drivers and teams.
But aerodynamics are not the only advantage the new Ford engines will bring, according to Yates.
“The oiling system is designed for a racing engine and, to this day, the current engine has done a great job for many years, but we’ve got to remember when I started 20 years ago the block was already in existence. So a lot of things have changed,” Yates said. “The demands have changed. The RPM and the power levels have changed tremendously, and to have an opportunity to have something new and move forward makes this an exciting time to be part of Ford.”
A brand new oil system – that’ll get all the kids excited about NASCAR.
In a release, and in Ford's defense, the oil system isn't the only improvement in the new Fords engines. Elements such as the induction exhaust, valvetrain, cooling, lubrication and sealing systems have all been improved for greater efficiency and performance, according to a release from Ford. Still, not much there to get too excited about from a fan's or spectator's perspective.
Yates is right about one thing: A lot has changed in the past 20 years. Cars have become incredibly advanced and technologically sophisticated, stock cars even more so.
It seems that NASCAR has not kept up with the changes in technologically, at least in the stock cars. The Car of Tomorrow has some incredible safety features and is on the cutting edge of aerodynamic development, but it has created for some lackluster racing in the past couple of years.
New engines are great for NASCAR and its teams, but wake me when they make one without a carburetor.
Photo: Ford and Roush Fenway Racing driver Matt Kenseth (17) will have new engine to race at Talladega Superspeedway on Nov. 1. David Ragan, Kenseth's teammate at Roush, will also be racing the new FR9 Ford engine. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)