Motorsport series around the world have been making the slow transition to hybrid power units for years, and now NASCAR might finally be joining the electrification party.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps confirmed at the SportsBusiness Journal World Congress of Sports that NASCAR is considering a swap to hybrid power as early as 2024, journalist Bob Pockrass reports.
Hybrid rumors have been swirling around NASCAR for ages; for a while, folks even thought that the American stock car series could have gone hybrid in 2022 had it not been postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, NASCAR Senior Vice President for Racing Development John Probst hinted at what the system could look like, noting that braking would likely be used as a way to regenerate battery power. But other than that, details have been sparse. He never shared any specific technical details.
But that bit about braking actually provides a big clue about NASCAR’s possible future direction: more road courses.
Think about it: NASCAR already sounds like it’s prizing regenerative braking, and that’s not exactly something you’re going to find at oval racing, where there aren’t any significant braking opportunities.
Road courses, though, with their left and right turns, provide plenty of opportunities for braking. NASCAR’s Next-Gen body style is already moving in a more road course-friendly direction. The bodies are no longer asymmetrical, a style that formerly optimized stock cars for left turns only. The new transaxle combines that transmission and rear end into a single package, which makes it easier to pop in some electrification elements. And with an ever-growing number of road courses popping up on the schedule, it seems like things are primed for a move to hybrids.
It would bring NASCAR on par with series like Formula One, which has implemented turbo-hybrid power systems since 2014, and IndyCar, which introduced plans to implement a hybrid system as early as 2023.