Hold your horses: New engine rules a work-in-progress
MAY 10, 2014 3:00p ET
I know there has been a lot of talk since NASCAR publicly announced it's looking to cut back on horsepower. The reason why the sanctioning body is talking about doing this is we are starting to push 200 mph more than ever. It's becoming the norm more than the exception.
Let's face it: The cost of racing continues to climb. One of the biggest line items in a team's yearly budget is engines. So as long as the engine guys continue to try to find more horsepower, which naturally is their job, then the costs will continue to escalate.
I think NASCAR learned with the development of the Gen-6 car that if the drivers, teams, engineers, engine folks and manufacturers are included in this process that it can be successful for everyone. Obviously, as the ruling body, NASCAR will have the final say-so, but making this process more inclusive and transparent, I believe, will make for a better end-result.
Way back when I started into racing, if you had an engine that could produce 600 horsepower, then you were doing well. Now they are pushing past 900 horsepower. Oh and don't think just because they've reached the magical number of 900 that they are going to stop. That won't happen because, again, the job of the engine guys is to find and create as much horsepower as they can for their respective organization.
I know the race fans are asking how quickly this change will come. It's not going to happen any quicker than the owners and manufacturers allow it to happen. Even when they come up with the desired package, the bigger question they face is if they can they replicate that package easily.
When I say that, just think about all the engines in just the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. They'll all have to have new crankshafts, new blocks and new cylinder-head configuration and possibly new connecting rods. It's pretty mind-boggling when you add it all up. Something like 1,000 new crankshafts will have to be available when they make this change.
So that's just one of the many obstacles NASCAR and these teams are facing. The teams obviously would love to be able to continue to use some of the current parts and pieces they have in the new engines and/or be able to sell them to be used in either the Nationwide or Camping World Truck series.
So my point is this is a major undertaking. I applaud NASCAR for making it public so early in the process, as opposed to springing it on everyone unexpectedly. This project is in its infancy. We're going to hear a lot about it for a while to come.
I honestly don't expect to see this new engine package roll out until 2016 at the earliest.