Car of Tomorrow Specifications
The Car of Tomorrow is a car body style for NASCAR's NEXTEL Cup.

Car of Tomorrow, NASCAR Series Racing

The new design of the Nextel Cup's "car of tomorrow," like this Dodge Avenger unveiled at the 2008 Detroit auto show, will eventually yield safer, more competitive and less expensive racing. (Photograph by Jim Dunne)

This season, astute race fans are noticing something different about champion Jimmie Johnson s Nextel Cup car. Aside from the paint, headlights, grille and number decals, his Chevy looks exactly the same as Matt Kenseth s Ford, Juan Pablo Montoya s Dodge even Michael Waltrip s Toyota. It s been a long time since Cup cars bore much of a physical or mechanical resemblance to their namesakes. However, up until this year, the race cars did look different from each other. A NASCAR Dodge didn't t look a lot like the production model, but a fan could never mistake it for a Monte Carlo. Now, that s all changed.

Beginning with 16 races this year and expanding to 26 races in 08 and the full season in 09, NASCAR s premier series is essentially a spec series. In other words, the cars are basically identical except for their engines all built to the same exacting specifications. It s taken NASCAR five years to create the blueprint for the new racer, which it has dubbed the Car of Tomorrow. Its purpose is threefold: Increase safety, reduce costs and provide closer competition with racer protection topping the list. According to NASCAR communications director Kerry Tharp: From the very beginning of this project, the Car of Tomorrow has been all about improving driver safety. The new vehicle is, essentially, a big crash-survival cocoon.

Outliving the Car

The new race car is larger than its predecessor, leaving more space around the driver. The cockpit is 2 in. taller and 4 in. wider, and the driver sits 4 in. closer to the car s centerline, all to increase crush space. In addition, the windshield is more upright, and the car has double frame rails with one rail stacked on top of the other on the left side. That extra rail means better protection in a car-to-car crash, says John Probst, technical director for Team Red Bull.

To further boost safety, about 4 in. of impact-absorbing foam has been added to both doors. The windows are bigger, to help a driver escape more quickly. NASCAR also mandated a stout 360-degree tapered containment tunnel for the driveshaft, to eliminate cockpit intrusion in a crash.

Finally, the car s fuel cell is smaller. The cell s bladder has thicker walls, and a flapper valve replaces the previous fuel system s potentially leaky ball-check valve.

NASCAR has spelled out the construction to a much higher level of detail than ever before. That posed challenges for engineers and mechanics as did the fact that the rules were still being tweaked just weeks before the start of race season. Teams are definitely struggling, says Eric Warren, technical director for Evernham Motorsports. When they try and build these new chassis, they can t hold the tolerances required. I would say they are borderline petrified of going through the inspection process.

The new rules aren't t all about safety: According to officials, the the new carbon-fiber rear wing and front splitter, or airdam, should allow better balance and more control, and promote passing. That, the sanctioning body says, equals better racing. But not everyone agrees. Some teams claim that the dramatic, come-from-the-back slingshot passes that are popular with many fans will become less common. If you lose the pack, you won t be able to catch up, Probst says.

The reason, teams say, is twofold. The cars are larger and less aerodynamic than before, and the shape is so regulated that teams will have a hard time finding any aerodynamic edge. Teams will also have less room to tinker with the chassis setup. You re still able to play a little bit with the front clip in terms of geometry, Probst says. You can decide whether or not to run a crossbrace to add stiffness, but they re closing up the gray areas when it comes to design.

The Tech Race

NASCAR s final goal for the rules overhaul, Tharp says, was to cut costs. The new body s adjustable down force devices (front splitter and rear wing) will allow teams to use the same racer on short tracks, superspeedways and road courses, saving them lots of money. Today, the wealthiest Cup teams have as many as 18 different cars for NASCAR s 23 tracks. Officials say that a universal car levels the playing field. On the other hand, teams could end up spending more in a sort of technological arms race to gain an edge. This forces more advanced engineering because the gains you can find are so much smaller, Probst says.

The new Cup cars may indeed lead to technical innovation within the sport. They will almost certainly save lives on the track. But will NASCAR still be as fun to watch? That, only the fans can say. continued- Design On January 12, 2006, NASCAR announced a universal car named "Car of Tomorrow" after a five-year design program.

The primary design considerations are "safety innovations, performance and competition, and cost efficiency for teams.
All cars will be required to fit the same set of templates. NASCAR currently has a different set of templates for each manufacturer (Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and Toyota). NASCAR has frequently adjusted the rules to ensure that different car manufacturers have relatively equal cars. The universal body of the Car of Tomorrow will eliminate these problems. The car has reduced dependence on aerodynamics and improved handling. The car will probably feature a detachable wing, which has not been used since the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird in the 1970s.

[2] The windshield is more upright, which increases drag. The air intake is below the front bumper of the car, which eliminates overheating caused by clogged grills. The front bumper is more box-like, which slows the car down by catching more air.

The Car of Tomorrow has improved safety features over the current car.

The driver's seat has been moved four inches to the right, the roll cage has been shifted three inches to the rear, and the car is two inches taller and four inches wider.

More "crush-ability" is built into the car on both sides, ensuring even more protection.

The car's exhaust runs through the body, and exits on the right side, which diverts heat away from the driver.

The fuel cell is stronger, and has a smaller capacity (17.5 gallons, down from 22 gallons).

Testing The Car of Tomorrow was first tested at the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway, then on NASCAR's two shortest tracks, Bristol (0.533 mi) and Martinsville (0.526 mi.), the 1.5 mile Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte, North Carolina, and Michigan. Former NASCAR driver, current Nextel Cup pace car driver and Director of Cost Research Brett Bodine has tested the prototype car against cars prepared by current NASCAR teams.

Schedule The Car of Tomorrow will be first raced at the 2007 spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The car will be used at sixteen events in 2007, consisting of all tracks less than a mile and a half in length, the road courses, and the second Talladega race. In 2008, tracks 2 miles or more in length will use it.

The Car of Tomorrow will be used at all events starting in 2009.

National Guard/GMAC Car -Monte Carlo SS Specs

Wheelbase: 110 in.
Length: 200.7 in.
Width: 72.5 in.
Height: 51 in.
Tread width: 60.5 in. (max.)
Curb weight: 3,400 lbs. (w/o driver)
Design: Rear-wheel drive
Type: Tubular
Front suspension: Independent, coil springs, control arms
Rear suspension: Trailing arms, coil springs, panhard bar
Steering: Power, heavy-duty
Brakes: Four-wheel disc
Wheels: Steel, 9.5 in. x 15 in.
Tires: Goodyear Eagle racing radials
Frame: Rectangular tube by Hendrick Motorsports
Braces & Roll-cage: Round tubing built by Hendrick Motorsports
Type: Chevrolet V8-R07
Displacement: 358 cubic inches (maximum)
Compression ratio: 12:1
Induction system: 4-barrell Holley carburetor
Horsepower: 850 hp @ 9,000 RPM
Torque: 540 ft. lbs. @ 7,200 RPM
Fuel economy: 4.5 mpg (1.5-mile track)
Type: 4-speed
Fuel: 22-gallons
Oil: 16 quarts
Cooling: 14 quarts

Featured Passenger Car Cup Car
Wind-tunnel-refined body shape Yes Yes
Four-wheel disc brakes Yes Yes
Antilock brakes Yes No
Rack-and-pinion steering Yes No
Electronic fuel injection Yes No
Computer-controlled ignition timing Yes No
Automatic transmission Yes No
Power-assisted steering Yes Yes
Power-assisted braking Yes No
Airbags Yes No
Safety roll cage No Yes
Safety fuel cell No Yes
Computerized engine controls Yes No
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