Brad Keselowski wants electric power boosts in his race car, similar to a ‘nitrous button’
Brad Keselowski has been slightly opinionated in recent weeks. That’s a great thing. It’s nice to see drivers that aren’t robots.
First, Brad Keselowski comments on the aero package. The high downforce restrictor plate rules package was run at the All-Star race. It was a success.
Now, NASCAR is looking at implementing that package at 1-2 more races for the 2018 season. That’s a test for a potentially large rollout of the package in the 2019 season. Some drivers are in favor, others are not. It’s a fairly polarizing topic.
“I am thankful that it improved the show and watchability for the All-Star Race … but I think we should always be mindful of our responsibility as a sport to make sure the best drivers are able to showcase their talent,” Brad Keselowski stated last week.
“I am apprehensive that coming with a package like that on a larger scale for the sport will in time deteriorate the ability for the drivers to make a difference, and they will look for other racing venues to achieve that.”
Next, Brad Keselowski took on the topic of racing technology. Hybrids are here, they’ve been here. Yet, the latest automotive technology has evaded the NASCAR world.
“In fact, not only am I sure that hybrids are the future of NASCAR—I believe it’s essential to the success of the sport that we embrace hybrid technology as soon as possible.”
That doesn’t mean Brad Keselowski wants an all-electric race car. Instead, he wants the best of both worlds. A boost of electric power, in combination with the traditional gas powered engines.
“Race cars that don’t sound like race cars isn’t acceptable. If that’s going to be the cost of hybrid vehicles, a lot of NASCAR fans will want to throw up, and rightly so. Our fan base associates stock cars with a throaty V-8 engine, and so do I. That shouldn’t change. If we switch to a four-cylinder or V-6 in NASCAR, we’re going to lose a lot of fans.”
“But having a KERS system similar to what they have in F1—that can recover energy and use it as needed—is the perfect foundation for the NASCAR V-8 hybrid stock car. The way I envision it, we’d be creating one of the best engines in the world, and it would keep the roar that NASCAR fans love.”
Indycar has a ‘push to pass’ button and F1 does as well. Each of those pieces of technology came into the sport with the idea of creating more passing. As NASCAR fights the losing battle of the aerodynamic push, a boost button could help push a driver through that force field of dirty air.
“The NASCAR KERS system will supply the cars with a small extra reserve of electric energy—almost like having a nitrous button—that would give drivers a boost of power whenever they need it. When maxed out, that extra boost could last a full lap or two, and it could be used in two different ways: either as a substitute for gas power, or to complement it.”
“In addition, to make sure that drivers have to use the KERS system, the new NASCAR hybrid would have a 10-gallon fuel tank—basically, half of its current size. This would make the cars harder to drive, which I think as a race car driver, is never a bad thing. Race cars should be hard to drive. Without having the fuel to spare, racers also would be forced to use the electric system throughout races, both in critical and non-critical situations. It’s not hard to imagine what it would do to teams’ strategies throughout each race.”
“In terms of the racing, I think it would be incredible. Today, our cars have a max of about 750 horsepower. Potentially, a hybrid would have almost 1,000 horsepower with the KERS system and the V8 combined. They would get up to speed immediately.”
“Let’s say a yellow comes out. According to our new parameters, all cars would switch to electric in their hybrid engines in order to save precious fuel. In that moment, the field would go silent, and wouldn’t be burning gas anymore. This would be great for our fans because it would bring down the wall of useless noise for a few minutes while we’re under caution.”
“As a driver, this would change the way I drive in a good way. More power makes the car harder to manage. That puts control of the car more in my hands, and less under the influence of elements I don’t control like aerodynamics, things of that nature.”
The new restrictor plate, aero package was designed to bunch of the field and create more side by side racing. The restrictor plate is designed to slow the cars down. By slowing the cars down, there’s less dirty air. That alone takes away a large portion of the dirty air disadvantage to the trailing car.
Brad Keselowski’s idea is to break through that dirty air with essentially, a nitrous button. Only instead of nitrous, it would be a boost of stored electric energy.
Right now, the auto industry is transitioning. You can hate electric power all you want. But, Tesla has the worlds fastest car right now. Why isn’t that power used in NASCAR? Especially when it could be a way to draw in more manufacture support to the sport.
“Our sport relies heavily on manufacturers to be successful. Without them, we can’t operate.”
“To be clear: I don’t think that electric cars are the future. The poor infrastructure and manufacturing waste associated with electric cars (and especially with their batteries) make that certain. I believe that hybrid vehicles are the future.”
“The first thing that everyone’s going to say is that switching to a KERS hybrid system will cost too much money. I don’t believe that. I’d argue that big teams will always find a way to implement new technology that benefits them. Will it be hard for the smaller teams? Absolutely. But the truth is that struggling teams are always going to be struggling teams. We can’t let that get in the way of making the sport better.”
I just drove by the Mercedes factory in Birmingham, Alabama. They have a billboard on the highway that read, “The future is electric.” That’s what the automakers are interested in. Of all the new cars for 2018, 51 of them are hybrid powered. It’s hard to sell them on joining NASCAR when it’s not up to spec with the road technology.
“Yes, hybrids already exist on the road, but there is still a lot of potential to make pretty significant efficiency gains. I can’t think of a better arena than motorsports to help bring those improvements about.”
“When it comes to cars, there is no laboratory more potent than the world of racing. We’ll push ourselves to the limit for a one horsepower improvement. If we’re working with OEMs on hybrid technology, some of the money and resources we put to use on the track will eventually make the cars on the roads better, too.”
“That’s a future that everyone can believe in.”
You can read the full hybrid NASCAR post from Brad Keselowski here.
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