A revised rule book that teams can refer to a real-time, electronic format. A lot Standardized officiating in all three national series. Streamline inspection and parts approval process. Sanctions spelled out by disobedience. Pit road or in-breed data that can be consumed by keeping the fans on their tablet or smartphone.
Welcome to NASCAR, 2015.
2015 Daytona 500 will mark a landmark shift now the 65-year-old series, which is reinventing its competition department in an effort to add more technology to the sport. NASCAR officials on Monday announced a series of sweeping changes that will be implemented over the next year and a half, with the goal of having all of them in place in the season opener in 2015. The goal is to make NASCAR more proactive in areas such as rule enforcement, more transparent to its fans and competitors, and more relatable to the participants as race teams and manufacturers.
“In general if you look at it, it’s a little bit of a culture change in how we’ve done business,” Steve O’Donnell, senior vice president of racing operations, said the NASCAR Research and Development Center. “Our goal is really to take a lot of assets that are available to us, and actually reinvest, and put more money back into our R & D efforts. Anything that will allow us to do is get earlier in their objects more advanced way. ”
The initiative follows an eight-month review of NASCAR’s competition department overseen by a five-person steering committee led by NASCAR President Mike Helton, O’Donnell, NASCAR Vice President of Innovation and Development Gene Stefanyshyn Racing, NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton and NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps, along with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and former Chrysler executive Brent Dewar. The plan is for the full adoption of the 11 key points by 2015 Daytona 500, although some will be implemented before then.
“We are entering a new era, a new era,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition. “It’s exciting for all of us.”
Many things will change, beginning with the rule book, which will eventually be made available to the team in an electronic form that will not just fall in line with computer-aided design (CAD) used to store, but tighten the gray area by using more detailed images in the text area. That job falls to Stefanyshyn, the former General Motors executive who was hired in April as Vice President of Innovation and NASCAR Racing Development, and take over rule making officiating from the sport’s team.
“The foundational element of this is for us to migrate from a rule book is mainly text-based, to one that is largely math-based,” said Stefanyshyn. “It would be computer-aided design drawings, or CAD drawings. Guess it is really critical. Know we most manufacturers do with engineering drawings, and most of them are now in a math-based world. Needs we have to migrate to. ”
This effort will require a line-by-line examination of the rule book – the Sprint Cup version which contained 192 pages – before it is translated into electronic form.
“We need to walk on each side of the car,” said Stefanyshyn. “We need to translate written text lines. We also have to take care of them. Among the words that have a long history and (have) found their way to the rule book, so we need to ensure would those are really relevant and important to stay on the line. This would be a fairly significant undertaking for us to get to the other side. Having said that, once we get to the other side, as we Go on, it will be much easier to work off the base, so there is a big chunk of work more ahead of us. ”
Part of this process involves scaling penalty in direct proportion to the offense, both have clear rules listed in the book. On race tracks, Pemberton said officials across national division was eventually designated as the official NASCAR, rather than divided in the series. There are also potential changes in qualifying procedures dissipation, although Pemberton said what may have not been decided.
One goal of this reinvention is to promote more fan interaction. O’Donnell has envisions a track inspection process which teams are scheduled, so viewers know what their favorite time of the rolling through technical bay. There is the possibility that the technology will allow fans to receive more real-time data from either in the car or on pit road, all available at the press of a screen.
“Ultimately, we want to put the fan in the driver’s seat,” O’Donnell said, “seeing that data, see what happens in the race.”
O’Donnell characterized the movement as a reinvestment in technology directed by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, who during his tenure has made a priority of bringing science to the forefront. Further modernization of NASCAR competition department requires “a huge expenditure on our part,” O’Donnell said, but he believes the benefits will be worth it.
“We want to be a proving ground,” she added. “When you look at NASCAR, we feel that the sport is no better positioned to really take technology and present it in front of some of the toughest conditions that exist in the world.”
The modernization effort continues a movement that took the momentum with the introduction of the Generation-6 car, which debuted in the Sprint Cup Series this year. A more brand identifiable vehicle, it tightened the bond between passenger cars and their brethren the race track. As part of the new initiative, NASCAR hopes to strengthen ties over successive generations, and bring the cars closer together, both inside and out.
“We combined the Gen-6 out of the car, which obviously mirrors the body of the car. As we go forward, the new Chevrolet cars that will be combined out three, four years from now, technology in the car, “O’Donnell said,” NASCAR (have) delivered some of the technology in partnership with GM. seems not only like a car on the outside, but inside as well. ”
All this in a wonderful initiative, and continued dialogue between NASCAR, teams and tracks the details of the plan. O’Donnell said efforts are a “long-term play” received positive early reviews from competitors.
“It is very similar to the way (the team) are running – they have their team goes to race, while there is a ton of work going on for the race six months out, and preparing car and getting ready, “he said. “Those engineers who work early today should be a direct link to our R & D Center. We have to open the lines of communication. A Gen-6 is a really great start, and we’ve got I to expand on the success of that and basically, for lack of a better term, formalize processes in everything we do. ”
And the process seems unlikely to change, even once the target date 2015 Daytona 500 has finally arrived. The more technologically-minded way of thinking can alter even profound traditions such as ban on telemetry in the car during the weekends events. Pemberton admitted opening up things in that area, which could lead to more real-time data for the viewers watching at home or in the grandstands.
“We’re looking at that,” he said, “and we feel like that’s the direction we need to go earlier rather than later to provide a great experience for fans.”
Even the revered V-8 engine can be reconsidered a day as NASCAR moves to stay more in line with the technology that comes down the assembly line. As it did with the introduction of electronic fuel injection in the Sprint Cup Series, the sport is trying to be more intelligent, more responsive, and more relevant to the next generation of fans.
“Our goal is to have a plan that covers many years from short to long term, and develop technologies that are going to be relevant to our fans,” said Stefanyshyn. “The car on the track must have some commonality with people who drive cars. We need to move in a direction that the rest of the world is moving. To that extent, if we do not, we are completely disenfranchise ourselves our next generation of fans. So yes, we need to migrate in that direction. The speed of the move we will be crucial. “