NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, Steve O’Donnell gave an update on the progress of the highly-speculated Gen-7 car for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The target launch date for the new vehicle is 2021. NASCAR officials have stated that this year’s rule package is a bridge to the Gen-7 car, designed to attract other Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to face off against Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet.
“I think it’s important to note that the reason we headed in this direction with the 2019 rules package was really to line us up for where we wanted to go in the future from a racing standpoint, both on track from a car’s look and feel and then under the hood from an engine perspective,” O’Donnell said. “If you look at a lot of the dialogue we’ve had with our existing OEMs, potential OEMs, there’s a lot of interest to do some things differently in terms of making the cars look even more like they do on the street, making sure that we can evolve some of our engine technology as well.”
In addition to attracting new OEMs, O’Donnell stated that discussions about a more relevant engine in the new Gen-7 Car have begun. It appears that the new cars will be even more like their street-car counterparts, as well as to motors that are more similar to production models.
Mark Rushbrook, global director for Ford Performance Motorsports, echoed O’Donnell’s sentiments about more similarity to production cars.
“As much as we like that we’ve been able to make our new car look like a Mustang, we’d like the ability to do even more in that area,” Rushbrook said during a preseason media event at the Ford Performance Tech Center. “In terms of what you see on the outside of the car, we’d like to see a few changes — nothing major, but a few changes underneath the car for a little bit of technical relevance. We want to make sure that we can keep using our technical tools and learning like we do today. We don’t want to lose that with any changes.”
“I think that’s the right step for the sport to take to get a new car in those different areas. Then after that step is taken, then look at something for the powertrain. I think it’s too much to do the engine at the same time, but I think it’s something that can follow after the new car.”
Doug Yates, of Roush Yates Engines who supplies the motors for factory-backed Ford’s in the Cup Series, agreed with Rushbrook’s plan: car and then engine change for the Gen-7. In addition to agreeing with the two-stage plan, Yates wants to see change and innovation for manufacturers.
“I always tell my staff, if we come in the shop 20 years from now and it looks the same as it did today, then we haven’t done our job,” Yates said. “I think the same way about the race cars and the engines. When we open up the hood five or 10 years from now, it needs to look different than it does today, and it needs to look more production-based, and that’s exciting. There’s a lot of questions there. The main one is, what does that cost? What are the financial implications, but if we can work together with NASCAR and the other OEMs to make a smart step forward — and that may include electrification on these cars at some point — I think that’s something we need to embrace as a sport.”