What an electric NASCAR series can learn from Formula E/Rally Cross

NASCAR could explore an electric series, and they can learn a lot from Formula E and electric Rally Cross.

After the announcement earlier this year that NASCAR might be continuing an electric version of their series as early as next year, I was incredibly interested and received a flood of emails from eager viewers and quick reviews. But one message was clear to everyone; NASCAR may only have one chance, so they better get it right.

Looking at two very predominant electric racing series, Formula E and Rally Cross, there are a lot of lessons to be learned, especially since both series grew out of pre-existing racing systems with gasoline-powered cars, a bit like NASCAR today. And in short, five key points could easily apply to NASCAR’s first attempt at electrification.

Shorter strokes –

Formula E may be on to something with its racing structure, all races are completed in a single day and the actual racing event only takes 45 minutes. In a world of increasingly short attention spans, this differentiation has allowed the European racing series to establish a significantly younger audience, which NASCAR desperately needs.

This style of racing also means that race cars can run batteries at 100% all the time, drivers don’t have to take off, or teams have to organize ‘car changes’; Formula E had to learn this lesson the hard way, NASCAR would be wise to learn as well.

Make cars as fast as possible –

When people talk about Formula E, the sad reality is that many consider the cars to be cleaner, greener, Slow down, and less exciting F1s. And unfortunately, to some extent, these people are right. Although Formula E has learned a lot from its early days, it’s still a lesson, or perhaps a challenge, that they haven’t been able to overcome.

So what does this mean for NASCAR? This means NASCAR has a unique opportunity to make their vehicles even faster with electric transmissions and even outrun some of their big rivals. Imagine an ad where the new electric NASCAR is lined up with a current hybrid-drive Formula 1 car. How successful would this ad be if the stock car was faster? Add some mp3s from shouting_eagle.mp3 and a guitar solo or two, and you’ve got NASCAR returning to greatness.

Give manufacturers some freedom –

As someone who has worked in Formula E, I can tell you precisely what many manufacturers are looking for and why some have even chosen to leave FE; not enough design freedom. More than ever, manufacturers want to test charging, battery chemistry, tire compounds, motor architectures, battery management systems, and everything in between. And unfortunately they can’t have that much freedom in Formula E or Rally Cross. NASCAR could be the first!

The premise of modern Nascar is car uniformity, but even if teams were allowed to play with just one of the components I listed above, they would be tripping over themselves to join the sport.

Use new technologies to show the race –

Rally Cross has done a fantastic job of showing their races on television. The (relatively) quiet nature of electric transmissions means they can place music throughout the show. Plus, they make every run look like a Ken Block gymkhana video from five years ago! Drones come within inches of cars as they zoom around corners; there are more jumps and drift zones on the courses than ever before. It all adds up to a more exciting race to watch in person and on a screen.

NASCAR has already mastered the art of driver cameras for years, but adding music and drones could make the experience even better. Make the race feel like a movie to viewers and help them feel the speed and violence of the race unfolding around them!

Look into the character of the pilot –

It may be due to the American nature of NASCAR, or maybe mine, but the passionate drivers and their many quirks give NASCAR a unique appeal. Don’t just watch race cars go around a circuit, watch a battle between the punk newcomer who swears a lot and the old-timer who just needs a good final run and smokes in his car ( during and after the race). While Formula E has attempted to create that look, going so far as to allow drivers to vote for performance upgrades (DON’T DO THAT, NASCAR), their polished European drivers don’t offer the same excitement Roy does. “Buckshot” Jones or Dick Trickle.

More Exciting Races –

Along the same lines as shorter races, you also need more good races in that condensed driving time. I’ve watched my fair share of Formula 1, and I love the excitement of watching a driver go from last to first (Sergio Perez) or even vice versa (also, Sergio Perez). Rally Cross and Formula E ensured that there was ALWAYS excitement to watch. Overtaking happens all the time, and it’s no accident. Both electric series have rules that temporarily force drivers off the racing line (Formula E’s attack mode is the best example of this). At the same time the cars were narrowed down to allow more space on the track, once again encouraging overtaking.

If NASCAR can encourage more action per minute, drivers and viewers will have a lot more to pay attention to.

Needless to say, I’m excited about electric NASCAR and hope it becomes a reality. At the same time, a particular focus on improving the racing and viewing experience could yield outstanding results for the heritage racing series and could ultimately resurrect NASCAR as a premier racing series once again. .

What do you think of the article ? Do you have any comments, questions or concerns? Email me at william@teslarati.com. You can also reach me on Twitter @WilliamWritin. If you have topical advice, write to us at tips@teslarati.com!

What an electric NASCAR series can learn from Formula E/Rally Cross

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