Kevin Harvick on NASCAR wind tunnel costs

New for 2019, NASCAR teams are required to turn in wind tunnel vouchers

At the start of the session, NASCAR released a memo regarding wind tunnel testing. Vouchers will have to be turned into NASCAR following the conclusion of any wind tunnel test.

Currently, there’s no limits in place. Teams can spend as much money as they so desire on simulated air.

However, the vouchers will give NASCAR an idea on who’s going more than others. They will have the data to determine what the limit would be if one needs to arise in the future.

In 2017, Ford blew $200 million to build their own wind tunnel. It spreads across 13 acres in Allen Park, Michigan.

Kevin Harvick at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey | Getty Images)

What does A NASCAR Wind Tunnel test cost?

The costs to go wind tunnel testing have been greatly exaggerated. However, it’s still a hefty piece in the budget of running a NASCAR team.

“They say there’s a six figure cost behind going to the wind tunnel. Well, that’s not true,” Kevin Harvick stated on ‘Happy Hours’ via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

“Being on the team owner side of things, I actually know and went back and looked at what wind tunnel costs. Then, I asked if it was still in that range.”

Harvick once owner a NASCAR Truck Series team. The team first opened in 2002 and closed it’s doors in 2011, allowing Harvick to focus on his efforts in the NASCAR Cup Series.

“Middle of the road, you’re going to spend $20,000 per session. That’s about what you’re going to spend for an 8 hour session.”

“You’re going to spend 2-3% of your budget on the wind tunnel.”

Ford Performance NASCAR simulator
Ford Performance NASCAR simulator

Taking away wind tunnel testing in NASCAR?

Wind tunnel testing is expensive. But, it’s a nice alternative to real world track testing, which was banned in 2015.

“So, here’s what will happen if you take away the team’s choice of how they spend their money.”

“That’s not really the right thing to do. Because how you want to run your business and how I want to run my business, is different.”

“The wind tunnel is a small percentage. But, if you take it all. We’ll just put it all into CFD.

CFD is a computer program. Teams can put their car into the system and the computer simulates air movements and the numbers generated.

“All the things that you do in the wind tunnel are actually done there first.”

“What happened? Back in 2008 when the stock market crashed and the economy took a crap… They banned testing.”

“The first thing we did when they banned testing is everybody started taking that money and we started building our simulation systems.”

“Here we are with great simulation programs.”

Each manufacture has their own simulator. It’s a full NASCAR race car with a moving suspension platform. Teams book time in the machine ahead of race weekends.

Drivers like Alex Bowman were signed to Hendrick Motorsports before a ride was available with the team. While he waited for a seat to open up, his main role was improving the characteristics of the sim.

Wind Tunnel Test
Wind Tunnel Test (Photo: Aerodyn Wind Tunnel)
Wind Tunnel Voucher

“Basically, the voucher this year is every time you go to the wind tunnel the team has to turn a voucher in,” Harvick explained.

“There’s really no limitations or anything like that.”

“There’s a lot of different ways to do it. Penske has a 1/4 scale model that they use. There’s a lot of different ways you can spend your money.”

“It’s a good idea to have a budget for everybody. But, I don’t think it’s right to tell everybody how to spend there money.”

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Kevin Harvick | Aerodyn Tech | Sirius XM | NASCAR