The NASCAR Car of Tomorrow aka ‘CoT’. Or, the Car of Right Now aka ‘CoRN’.
However you refer to it, it’s here for the 2007 NASCAR season.
Just what are the differences from the previous NASCAR stock car?
Here is the scoop on the Car of Tomorrow.
Why make the Car of Tomorrow?
The Car of Tomorrow has been in the works by NASCAR’s Research and Development Center for 7-years. The number one reason for developing the Car of Tomorrow is driver safety. All the changes that we see in the body (rear wing, front splitter, etc.) are really a result of the changes that NASCAR R&D made to the chassis.
Bigger is Better
Prior to the 1980 season, NASCAR cars were much bigger than what has evolved into the cars NASCAR is currently racing.
The bigger Monte Carlo’s and Oldsmobile’s were wider. NASCAR research determined that these cars were safer because they were bigger.
Specific Chassis Changes to Increase Driver Safety
A big change is that there is now a Larger Cockpit. The Car of Tomorrow is 2-1/2″ taller and 4″ wider than the current NASCAR car. The driver is also located closer to the center of the car.
Additionally, the CoT has a Double Frame Rail with Steel Plating on the driver’s side with steel plating covering the door bars to help prevent anything coming through in a side-impact crash.
An Energy Absorbing Material (much like the Safer Barrier) is used around the side roll cage to absorb the impact of a crash.
The side rails of the roll cage used to run horizontally to one another. Now the side rails are stepped inward to also help absorb the impact of a side crash.
Changes to Fuel Cell
The CoT has a Smaller Fuel Cell which holds about 18 gallons. This fuel cell is raised slightly from last year and has a strengthened bladder, thicker container and safer check valve.
The Rear Protection Bars at the rear bumper of the car are bigger & stronger than previous NASCAR cars. This protects the fuel cell and driver in case of a rear impact crash.
There is also an Aluminum Energy Absorbing Honeycomb material surrounding the fuel cell. In the past, the teams used wood.
Another safety enhancement is the Enclosed Drive Shaft Area. It is completely enclosed in a metal tunnel to prevent it from coming through the floor into the driver area.
Adjustable Rear Wing
The rear wing of the Car of Tomorrow is an adjustable aerodynamic feature that replaces the rear spoiler.
Teams used to twist the car body to suit a drivers driving style. Now, since all bodies are the same, the wing is what will be adjusted to suit the driver.
When a team gets to the track, they will have the rear mounting brackets already in place. The size and location of the brackets will already be dictated by NASCAR.
The teams are then issued a carbon fiber rear wing.
Teams can ‘tune’ the angle of the rear-wing from 0° to 16°. This is how the teams affect the drag and rear downforce of the car.
In addition to the angle of the rear wing, the teams have 2 end-plates to choose from to install on the side of the wing. These end-plates generate side force. There are flat end-plates and curved end-plates.
The teams can use both flat or curved or a combination of the two to get the right feel for the driver.
Adjustable Front Splitter
The adjustable front splitter is how the teams will ‘tune’ the front downforce of the car to suit the drivers driving style.
The flat part of the splitter must be level with the ground and no more than 4 1/2″ off the ground. The splitter lip can’t be further in than flush with the front bumper. Nor, can it be further out than 2″. The amount of ‘in and out’ distance can vary across the width of the bumper though. So, in this sense the teams can still ‘fine tune’ the front bumper for downforce.
The Car of Tomorrow’s front bumper is much higher than the current NASCAR car.
The reason for this is so that when a car goes underneath a car in front of it, it won’t be able to get to the fuel cell, lift the rear wheels off the ground and spin the car out.
Are the Cars Too Much Alike?
Although the bodies are the same. The front end and rear end remain unique to the manufacturer.
In addition to the adjustments that can be made to the front splitter and the rear wing, there are many other ways a team can continue to adjust the cars.
The Upper & Lower Control Arms are adjustable up and down. The Sway Bar is still adjustable. The Drag Link configuration is still adjustable.
These are major adjustments that the teams still have control over to affect the handling of their cars.
Among other complaints is that the manufacturers will lose their identity with NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow.
While the body of the cars are the same. Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge and Toyota brands will all have different front and rear templates. The Car of Tomorrow will actually more closely resemble each manufacturers production model of the car. NASCAR feels that the Car of Tomorrow will have an increased branding impact for the car manufacturers.