Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Curtis Turner for 2016 HOF

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Cost of Progress, Follow the Money, & Assorted Odds & Ends

NA$CAR EFI Versus Carburetor: The Cost of Progress

Just to give folks an idea on what the costs are of a team converting from a Holley 850 cfm carb to NA$CAR’s obsolete EFI (actually TBI) system, I went to my sources on the cost of the antiquated fuel injection system being passed off as new technology and checked the Holley web site. The carb which is currently being used cost the teams about $600 a piece. The mandated obsolete fuel injection system that NA$CAR is forcing down the teams throats, and only available from NA$CAR, will cost the teams $25,200 each. That’s 42 times what the carb cost. Don’t get me wrong here. NA$CAR “technology” does need to advance to the 21st century. And fuel injection is one of those items. But not obsolete 1980’s technology. Manufacturers are moving towards direct fuel injection systems and turbo charging their engines. And as to the cost, I’m using Holley as an example once again, there are competitive systems built by Holley that come in well under $25,200. They come in well under the $15,000 range. Why aren’t teams given the option to use these systems? If it’s going to save them a buck in these hard economic times, I’m all for it. But then I keep forgetting. If they bought from Holley or another manufacturer, the wallets of NA$CAR wouldn’t be lined with team money like they are from the model car kit they currently sell to the teams (batteries not included). Based on Rick Hendrick’s figure on what the Kit Car cost him and add in the cost of the fuel injection system, the cars cost over $500,000 a piece. A half million dollars. That’s more than a lot of drivers from the 40’s, 50’s, & 60’s made in their entire career. That’s more than what most folks pay for a fully furnished house and two cars and still have lots of money in the bank.
And along these same lines, when was the last time you were able to buy a car or truck with something other than a 5 speed transmission in it? Some manufacturers have 6 speed manual transmissions available in their vehicles. So if NA$CAR really wants to keep up with the times and be technologically savvy, shouldn’t they also make the move to at least a 5 speed transmission?
And why all of the sudden the move to this obsolete fuel injection system anyways? Was it because NA$CAR wanted to be current with their technology? Or is there another reason? In a recent interview, Bad Brad Keselowski stated that the move to the antiquated fuel injection system was little more than a PR move by NA$CAR as a part of their veneer of “going green”. The system doesn’t give the cars better gas mileage. As a matter of fact it’s about the same as the current carburetor that’s being used. Folks were worried that we’d end up having a whole new type of fuel mileage races because of fuel injection. Based on what Brad said it doesn’t appear so. The system that’s being used will give better gas mileage IF you’re driving at 65 mph. It wasn’t really designed for racing. It was designed for street use. So don’t worry about the dreaded gas mileage races because of fuel injection.. I’m sure Brad will get a Double Secret Probation fine for his comments and has probably received several rather nasty phone calls from Mafia Mike about speaking the truth.
And what will the teams be doing with all these carbs they’re going to have to remove? Make paperweights out of them? Sell them as scrap metal? Maybe they can get $25 a pop selling them to another racing series that’s still using carbs. Or you might find them on E-Bay. Or maybe in the classifieds. “Free to a good home. One Holley 850 cfm carb with only 600 miles on it. Treated with kid gloves. Send an SASE to Fred Fumducker PO Box 850 Podunk Center Iowa”. And what about all the test equipment that’s used with the carbs? This whole move is, once again, going to cost the teams a fortune. And it comes at a time when even the mega-teams are hard pressed to find sponsorship much less the back markers. At the rate things are going, NA$CAR might need to change their name to better reflect the cost of ownership to the title of a movie. The Billionaire Boys Club.
Follow the Money 
With the 2012 election season moving closer and closer, the Beach Boy Bubbas are doing there usual with political donations. Here’s what they’ve managed to dole out so far to try to curry favor with some politicians:
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32120 NASCAR/MOTORSPORTS 6/6/2011 $10,000 Republican Party of Florida
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32120 NASCAR/CEO 6/30/2011 $5,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32120 N A S C A R/CHAIRMAN & C E O 6/10/2011 $2,500 National Republican Congressional Cmte
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32120 NASCAR/C.E.O. 6/30/2011 $1,000 Adams, Sandy
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32114 INTERNATINAL SPEEDWAY CORP/CHAIRMAN 3/16/2011 $5,000 National Republican Congressional Cmte
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32120 INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY CORP./AUTO R 3/31/2011 $2,400 Haridopolos, Mike
ORMOND BEACH,FL 32176 NASCAR/PRESIDENT 7/5/2011 $5,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte
ORMOND BEACH,FL 32176 NASCAR/C.O.O. 6/30/2011 $1,000 Adams, Sandy
ORMOND BEACH,FL 32176 NASCAR/EXECUTIVE 6/6/2011 $500 Republican Party of Florida
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32114 INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY/EXECUTIVE 6/6/2011 $10,000 Republican Party of Florida
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32114 INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY CORPORATION/ 8/31/2011 $5,000 Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte
DAYTONA BEACH,FL 32118 INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY CORP./PRESID 3/23/2011 $2,500 National Republican Congressional Cmte
These are the ones I’ve been able to find so far. I’m sure there are probably others that the Federal Election Committee haven’t published yet.
BTW, Faux King Brian’s donations were made from Florida where he is a registered voter and not North Carolina where he is supposedly a resident. Funny, in order to vote in Florida you have to be a resident. I guess Judge Mullen was wrong. So far this year, NA$CAR has spent $70,000 in lobbying money as a part of the Recreation/Live Entertainment Industry. Jordan Jiloty is their lobbyist.
Phoenix Race Coverage 
If you can call it that. The lamestream media is touting the 3.3 rating for what was supposed to be the Cup race at Phoenix. That doesn’t even come close to the 4.7 rating back in 2006. And it sure is awfully strange how Red Bull Racing got so much coverage throughout the race. About the only time we’ve really seen them this season has been when Vickers has managed to wreck or Kahne was able to get into the Top 10. It’s just a coincidence that the team still hasn’t been sold and NA$CAR would be down 2 more full time cars on the track if the team completely folds up because no buyer is found. NA$CAR would never act as an agent to help get that team sold because their owners in Japan want it to happen (sarcasm).
And BSPN didn’t go out of there way to avoid showing the aluminum in the grandstands. Despite having removed a section of grandstand, they still couldn’t pack them in even though PIR touted the race as being a sell out.
GM Confusion
When NA$CAR asked GM about running the Camaro in the Busch series, GM said no because they didn’t want their car associated with the generic design of the current race vehicle. And yet GM has introduced a generic bodied Corvette for racing in the NA$CAR Grand Am Series. So could GM please explain why they aren’t running the Camaro in the Busch Series again, please?
Don’t Drink the Kool Aid 
It’s taken at least 3 changes to the Chase for the Chumps, numerous “tweaks”, race manipulation, and a new points system in order to create something akin to excitement with the 10 race play-off system. Alan Kulwicki and Bill Elliott on the other hand created real excitement during a 36 race season coming down to the final race where leading the most laps in the very last race of the season created a championship win. So the 5 lb spider monkey in the room that is NA$CAR and it’s controlled media will be beating their chests long and hard before, during, and after the Homestead race about how exciting the season has been while ignoring the 300 lb gorilla in the room that is the fans’ dissatisfaction with the whole mess that Faux King Brian has created.


  1. Mike, read this and tell me if the new "Corvette" Daytona Prototype doesn't smell a lot like the Camry of Tomorrow.

  2. Yes - and I don't even WONDER what favor NA$CAR called into Red Bull for the win. :(

  3. Mike, good points in your article. I wonder what those companies and individuals who were making their living massaging the carbs are going to do now?
    Also how are they going to control the chips for the Fi system? You know that the teams are going to want some, strictly for the dyno room, right? Sure.
    As to the Corvette prototype. When the cars were introduced they made it so only approved car builders could supply those cars. Only seven builders were approved, GM was not one of them.
    So once again,Nascar's invisible rule book has surfaced. This time under the Grand Am branD to allow GM to have its way.

  4. Anon 8:21 The chips for the FI system will be sort of twofold. NA$CAR will issue a chip for each engine that will be running the FI. If a team has 6 engines, they'll be issued 6 chips for those engines. Then, they'll be issued one chip for race weekends by NA$CAR. The team chips will all have to be "certified" like the POS COT. I don't know what the cost is on that yet but you can bet that it won't be cheap.

    As to the Corvette DP for Grand Am, it does smell a lot like a Camry of Today, which is pretty much what the Daytona Prototype is. They can only be built by certain fab shops, they have to meet certain engine specs, and all have to meet the specs laid down by Grand Am. No real manufacturer bodylines or branding allowed, just like the Camry of Today. I honestly believe that the COT was forced on the Cup teams after seeing "how well" it worked in Grand Am. And after Toyota pulled out of Grand Am without any wins. Plus when you compare the Grand Am DP class to other comparable cars in other series like ALMS, they don't hold a candle to them in looks or performance. So we have 2 spec car series under the NA$CAR banner. Just wait til the "give us" the generic race truck, which should show up in the next year or two. Providing the Truck Series doesn't fold.

  5. The problem with ALMS has been that the factory racing teams have run the regular guys out of business.

    The DPG3 Corvette is intended to reminisce about the old IMSA Hendrick Corvette GTP, or even Ford's Mustang Probe "look". Each engine manufacturer can shape their DPG3 (as it's officially designated) to resemble a performance car or keep the chassis manufacturer's design.

    Also NASCAR will sanction in 2013 the DTM (German touring car) to specifications requested by DTM for North America, and is bringing global GT3 rules to the GT class, with just NASCAR's tougher roll cage specifications, spec rear wing, and five-lug wheels. Any GT3 car used in a global GT3 series can race, it just needs to run by NASCAR's technical center for an engine test (GT3 cars must be tested -- FIA rule) and have the three modifications.

    I warned after the GM and Chrysler seizures in 2009 that Obama was involved in it. Proof's in the pudding -- Mrs. Obama and Mrs. Biden are Grand Marshals for the Ford 400 and Ford is using Chinese automaker Geely's sedans for their 2013 Interceptors, built in Chicago. The Taurus and Explorer are built off Geely's P2, called D3/D4 in Ford nomenclature.

  6. If the costs of a car keep going up is it safe to assume that the racing quality will go down.

    When a car costs $200,000 and the race pays $250,000 then is the juice worth the squeeze? If nothing happens to a car after a race it probably costs $10,000 or more.

    Think about it. Who is going to pay $5 for a $5 lottery ticket? Best off playing it conservative.

    With COT, increasing costs and a playoff system it makes more and more sense to "ride around".

    Imagine if the payouts were the same and the costs were 30% lower?

    Imagine if the points system was for 36 races and not 10 and the championship paid 20% more?

    Imagine if there were bonus points for winning the pole, consecutive wins, top 5's and top 10's?

  7. and the day you post it, BK gets a 25k super not so secret fine for talking out.

  8. Mikie,

    Please keep looking, you're on the trail but you have not reported the true reasons they are mandating EFI in general and this system in particular. Ask VW why they said no thanks a couple of years ago after sniffing around with some interest at the time.

  9. If nothing else the NASCAR powerbrokers learned politics well.... My godfather who was an astute political broker used to tell me "donate to both parties....The winner owes you and the loser appreciates the support......A win win situation for the one that donates. (And that was told to me almost 60 years ago)

  10. Based on what Rick Hendrick said, the Kit Car cost him about $475,000 between purchasing the kit, assembling it, running it through NASCAR's certification process ($22,500), and the R&D time needed to make the kit cars competitive.

    Anon 6:16, if NASCAR had gone to a direct port injection system they might have grabbed VW's interest. Of course, they might still have to go to the DPI system based on the past history on the Japanese manufacturer. After 5 years of not winning or not winning a championship title, the manufacturer usually starts cutting back on team funding. Then they totally cut team funding and pull out of that series and move on to another one. As we've seen this season, they have cut back on team funding. So the other shoe will fall eventually leaving JGR, MWR, & others to hang in the breeze.

    Good points Sue. After having researched the past political donations of the Frances, prior to the 2008 election cycle, most of the France family donations went to the Republicans. Starting with the 2008 cycle, they really started putting money into both parties to cover all their bases. In doing so, the can ensure they can get "assistance" from the Republican controlled House and the Democrat controlled Senate.

    That's an interesting observation Bobby about Mrs Obama & Mrs Biden. Good old Government Motors.

    Anon 7:01,from talking with several of the Busch Series teams, riding around is about all they can afford to do. They're running the old SB-2 engines and give up about 100 HP to the Buschwhackers. The reason for running the old engine is because of the financial setbacks caused by the switch to the generic race vehicle. They couldn't afford to run the R-07 engine after buying and building the Busch Series generic vehicles.One team went form having 12 cars in their inventory to 6. Another team has just 2 cars. When the Cup Series first went to the Camry of Today, Greg Biffle pointed out all of the safety features could've been incorporated in the old car thus saving the teams lots of money. The same sort of thing could've been done with the Busch Series cars. And when you look at the race purses, the Busch Series regular teams can ill afford to buy brand new car kits to get their inventories back up to what they were previously.

    If we had a 36 race season with more points being given for wins, it would definitely be more exciting than what we've got now. And we'd have had a couple different champs instead of one with 5 wins in a row. In a way, should Cousin/Crazy Carl win, it would be hilarious and show the Beach Boy Bubbas that no matter how much changing and tinkering they do that the desired results aren't always achieved. Plus if Carl wins, you can expect to see the rules change yet again for the final 10 races.

  11. Mike, Check out this link. Basically, GM "bought" a change to NASCAR's Grand-Am rules. Hmmm, just like Toyota did in Cup...
    (The Nov 16 edition)

  12. What's the second half of the cup field look like next year? Who supplies them with EFI and who's engineer helps them get it working right? I guess you just don't go buy a few EFI cup engines from your favorite local engine builder anymore (not to mention that has been the case the last 15 years or so). Looks like NASCAR has pretty much legislated "engine builders" out of existance in favor of the factory racing engine kit. If this is the case they're probably considering a common engine to eventually appear on the scene at some point. Do you see 43 cars every week or do they do it by having to call in more start and parks? Seems everybody is pretty much on a 24-7 mission looking for barrels of money which is getting harder to find nowadays.

  13. I will be really surprised if they can successfully pull off an all EFI Daytona 500 without the usual amount of testing and validation required to work out all the expected wrinkles. This one flies in the face in how an historically conservative NASCAR usually does things which has always been make as small a change as absolutely necessary and then only if absolutely necessary. My guess is you will probably see carburetors approved for use again at the eleventh hour to give teams more time to get their EFI systems working and driving properly. There is an enormous amount of effort and engineering expense involved for the top teams making the switch in such a short amount of time so how will the "second tier" cars without all of those resources ever manage to get their stuff there in time? Another problem with the EFI system not really being discussed in the media is the teams are trying to work out driveability in the draft and acceleration off pit road without stumbling because not enough sensors to control the ECU are being allowed. NASCAR is concerned about teams finding a way to hide secret on-board traction controls so everyone is having to work out driveability bugs in their equipment with the approved sensors. I might be wrong but I just think it needs more time before it will be ready to put on a good show with all 43 cars

  14. Anon 11:20, the back half of the field is either going to have to buy the EFI themselves and run fewer races because of the cost of converting or NASCAR is going to have to furnish it to get a full field. Especially with the sponsorship well running dry. No full fields will have some serious financial repercussions for NASCAR despite their denials about full fields and the network deals.

    Anon 10:58, when the EFI was first announced, it was supposed to have been running full time this season instead of next season. Then they were going to run 4 races this season with EFI, which never happened. You may be right about a last minute stay on the carbs or we could end up with a COT situation where everyone is forced to run it, like it or not, without all the proper testing being done and allowing the teams to properly budget for the conversion.

    From the pictures and diagrams I've seen of the EFI system, they seem to be lacking several critical sensors that are essential. I see only 2 organizations that might have a handle on the EFI situation. RFR via Roush-Yates and RCR via ECR since both organizatons build engines for other series which run either carbs or fuel injection. They might be able to do some technology transfer. If NASCAR was really worried about traction control, they'd issue the teams ignition boxes, alternators, and distributors, which is the 3 places where they are commonly hidden. the alternative would be to fluoroscope or x-ray those components to locate the traction control but that means spending money for equipment and training people to properly operate them and know what to look for. NASCAR won't do that on their own so traction control is pretty much here to stay even if it violates the rules. If NASCAR wasn't so insistent on restrictor plates, they could've gone to a much better fuel injection system that's commercially available instead of rehashing 1980's technology which still allows for restrictor plate us. If some forethought had really been given to the situation,NASCAR would've spent the last 2 years working out all the bugs before mandating the change. But then NASCAR isn't exactly known for having 20-20 vision. Just 20-20 hind sight.

    Anon 5:22 Why am I not surprised at GM buying the change? They've successfully "bought" rules changes in the past in NASCAR so they're continuing with an established tradition.