erhaps more than any other major sports sanctioning body, the National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) is known for not being afraid of making rule changes for the betterment of their sport.

In the recent past they have drastically increased their efforts to make both their cars and tracks safer.

When their cars were routinely exceeding 200 mph they took almost 100 cubic inches away from the max engine size between seasons.

On the other hand, the chassis they adopted remains a refined copy of a 1957 pickup truck chassis. They somehow got away from stock-appearing bodies and went to the Car of Tomorrow with trick rear wings, but, thankfully, soon dropped most of that idea. 

They tried to turn their drivers into some kind of Madison Avenue clones and discouraged them from rubbin’, racin’, and fightin’, but they soon found out their fan base didn’t care for sanitized versions of Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough, so they changed that and let the drivers be themselves.

Through all of these changes, both good and bad, the basic powerplant for NASCAR remained the 356-ci gas burning, carbureted small block built with technology developed in the Detroit technology centers (and wherever Toyota has theirs). Then that too started to change.

First, NASCAR adopted a politically correct ethanol-enriched gasoline that is more environmentally friendly than the racing gas they were using, and then they announced the banning of a carburetor design that is more than 125 years old and has been used on NASCAR engines since 1949. The carb was replaced with a much more efficient Electronic Fuel Injection induction controlled by an ECU. This is a change the manufacturers of carburetors have fought against tooth and nail since the introduction of EFI as a replacement for carburetion in all GM, Asian, and European cars more than two decades ago.

Today NASCAR and engineers from all of the brands that compete in the Sprint Cup series are racing to perfect, as best they can, a workable and controllable EFI. NASCAR has made it absolutely clear that after a couple of false starts they are committed to beginning the 2012 NASCAR season at Daytona with EFI fuel systems on their cars.

Before the first race on the new track, NASCAR had five of their premier teams bring cars to Bruton Smith’s Kentucky Speedway to test the EFI units. The only fuel injection system approved for use in NASCAR is made by England’s McLaren Electronic Systems and Freescale Semiconductor located in Austin, Texas.
NASCAR Team Chevrolet driver Ryan Newman - who has an Engineering degree from Purdue University - toured the engineering and vehicle development areas of the GM Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Mich., in June. Newman spent the afternoon talking to engineers and test-driving a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 development vehicle. (photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet Racing)