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NASCAR Debuted Electric Car Model At Clash At The Coliseum

Photo Courtesy NASCAR

We seem to hear a lot about the sustainability efforts in leagues such as Formula 1, Formula 2, Formula E, and the World Endurance Championship. However, IndyCar and NASCAR, both based in the United States, have been taking steps to decarbonize their respective motorsports, although it appears stock car racing needs more time to implement alternative fuel for its cars. 

That’s not to say NASCAR isn’t experimenting with hybrid stock cars and electric motors. In fact, at the recent Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum in Los Angeles, NASCAR debuted its potential electric racing model. 

Pictures of the car surfaced on the r/NASCAR subreddit last year, showing the frame and the interior. There are few public details other than it is electric and looks more like a crossover than a car. Sports media outlet Sportsnaut reported engineers conducted a straight-line drag test at zMax Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway and circle track tested at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. 

It is said to have done more than 340 laps across three days and was driven by decorated NASCAR driver David Ragan. Ragan also drove the car at the Los Angeles Coliseum during the unveiling. 

Photo Courtesy NASCAR Subreddit 

According to NASCAR, the Martinsville test was promising, proving that electric power can match the pace of the current NextGen NASCAR model. The league says the electric prototype is only a few tenths of a second off the average Cup Series car. It has the potential to switch to hybrid power, according to Brandon Thomas, NASCAR vice president of vehicle design, at an annual NASCAR media briefing. The racing league wants to keep the roar of the engine, so it is experimenting with various alternative power sources besides electric. 

NASCAR has made it clear it isn’t interested in running an electric-only division. This prototype is mostly to keep up with the updates happening in the global auto industry. Teams regularly use engines from Chevy, Ford, Toyota, and Honda — all of which are rolling out electric and zero-emission vehicles annually. 

The running of this electric car at The Clash in LA gave a sneak peek at what the future holds for this storied American motorsport.

NASCAR has run races since 1948, with a deep tradition in America’s South. In the modern era, it has become much more globally appealing. NASCAR executives have even introduced more street races like the Chicago event last summer, and more international drivers have joined teams in recent years.   

NASCAR has lived by the automaker mantra “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” when testing new technologies. The race track serves as a testing ground for automakers’ developments. The brand with the best performances tends to resonate with fans. While most civilian vehicles won’t ever have the power of a NASCAR engine, it helps to give customers a sense that “If Dale Earnhardt Jr. can win at Talladega with a Ford, I think it’ll help me get to the store and back.”

Denny Hamlin — winner of 51 NASCAR races — won the 2024 Clash at The Coliseum

Photo Courtesy Chase McBride

What’s particularly interesting to motorsports journalists is the prototype’s body. The current car looks like an extra aerodynamic coupe, but the electric prototype is more boxy. There is speculation that NASCAR is moving toward a crossover-style body because the American car market is favoring crossovers more than sedans or coupes lately.  

We may not see electric racing in the style of Formula E in NASCAR. There is a more concrete effort to introduce hydrogen fuel to keep the power and roar of the engine that fans. However, NASCAR has shown a willingness to adapt to the increase in electric vehicle technology and more public awareness about the consequences of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. 

Some fans may be resistant to the change since it is a sport with a rich history. However, eco-conscious admirers may be happy to know people are working to make NASCAR more climate-neutral. 


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