Most people would say it’s about time NASCAR adopted fuel injection. After all, the only four-wheel vehicle you can buy with a carb has a Toro or John Deere nameplate. Yet sources say BMW and Honda won’t come to NASCAR with carburetors.
What’s the hang up guys? Many other racing series have had fuelies for years. Are the BMW and Honda rumors, pardon the pun, fueling the fire?
“Brian France wants fuel Injection yesterday,” says Nelson Crosier, founder of Nelson Specialties, Mooresville N.C., the NASCAR equivalent of Lockheed’s famed Skunk Works, or the CIA. Crosier is arguably one of the most intelligent and insightful technical minds in all of motorsport. Former Penske racing boss Don Miller called Crosier “an electronic wizard.” Unquestionably, Crosier knows his stuff.
So I asked him why calls to a famous NASCAR engine builder have been vague and non-committal. “The biggest reason,” says Crosier, “is NASCAR has not decided how many parameters they will let the teams use.” Instead of the couple dozen adjustments teams use with carburetors, there are more than 150 with fuel injection, Croser says. Long story short, it opens a Pandora’s Box for cheating. Did I say the “C” word? Naw…never happen. Will it be a simple throttle body system, or a more complex port injection system? Crosier thinks it will be the latter, with McLaren Electronics and Bosch as finalists in the design competition.
OK, then NASCAR will just issue a sealed “self learning” control unit and a set of injectors to each team at each race. Crosier says “self learning” means the control unit will measure things like air temperature, barometric pressure, altitude, exhaust gas oxygen levels and a few more parameters to ensure optimum engine performance. But imagine the problem in tech before and after a race. Forty-three control boxes and eight injectors for every entrant. Do the math. An already arduous tech schedule would be nearly unsustainable.
Of course, NASCAR teams would like to have more control like, say, their sibling Grand Am brothers. Check the pit video shots during a race. There are a couple guys looking at computer screens. They can fine-tune engine parameters down to cylinder lever from the pit lane. Number seven a bit too hot? Just add a bit more gas. Need better mileage to finish a race? No problem, a couple keystrokes and you’re good to go. No doubt, NASCAR will axe this for obvious reasons.
Even though teams have been running fuel injection on their dynos for a couple years, it does not compute to a viable system on the track in 2011. There might be a test schedule in place by the Martinsville race in April, according to Crosier.
Stay tuned to Real Car Guys for updates.