The big thing you notice at first is that these seem to strengthen links with their road-going counterparts. The cars have bigger wheels, now alloy rather than steel, a more coupe-style look and ride two inches higher off the ground. This helps make them more relatable to the road car buyers and therefore, should shore up the relevance of the series to OEMs. The new cars are also symmetrical, rather than skewed and feature wider tyres. There’s an increased emphasis on mechanical grip, rather than aero and ‘right-side sideforce’. At the back, there’s also now independent rear suspension, in place of a solid axle.
“I think that at the highest level, one of the main goals is just that the sport remains attractive to our current OEMs, teams and fans, but also attracts new ones,” said John Probst, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing innovation. “It’s sort of your overarching goal. We know to be attractive to our OEMs, we need to be relevant to them.”
It’s fair to say NASCAR is perhaps not the byword for progression and innovation in motorsport but gen-7 is moving with the times. There are for the first time in NASCAR, provisions for hybrid power in the future. The timetable for when such systems would debut does however “remain uncertain for now”.
“It could be ’24,” says NASCAR President Steve Phelps. “I think frankly the opportunity to have a new OEM partner will largely depend on what happens with that hybrid engine.”