CONCORD N.C. NASCAR on Monday announced a wide ranging initiative to transform the sport's competition division an effort that over the next year and a half will touch everything from the rule book to how teams roll through inspection at the race track.
NASCAR Senior Vice President for Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell said the initiative intends to build on the success of the Generation 6 car by further modernizing the sport's competition group. The goal is to make NASCAR more proactive in areas such as rule enforcement and strengthen the bonds between the sanctioning body and participants such as race teams and manufacturers.
In general if you look at it it's a little bit of a culture shift in how we've done business O'Donnell said at the NASCAR Research Development Center. Our goal is really to take a lot of the assets available to us and really reinvest and put even more money back into our RD efforts. What that will allow us to do is get ahead of things in a much more advanced way.
The initiative follows an eight month review of NASCAR's competition department overseen by a five person steering committee led by NASCAR President Mike Helton O'Donnell NASCAR Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development Gene Stefanyshyn NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton and NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps along with the consulting firm McKinsey Co. and former Chevrolet executive Brent Dewar. The plan is for full adoption of 11 key points by the 2015 Daytona 500 although some will be implemented before then.
Central to that effort will be the sport's rules coming under the purview of the RD Center specifically Stefanyshyn the former General Motors executive who was hired in April as NASCAR's Vice President of Innovation and Racing Development. The plan is to rewrite the rule book and make it available in more than written form precisely a CAD (computer aided design) model preferred by teams and manufacturers.
We want the rule book to be more reflective of what teams have now with CAD drawings O'Donnell said. Some of the reasoning for that is to make it more clear in the rule book what parts are approved. It's clearly illustrated in the rule book. So when you go to the track in the event that you have a penalty not only is the part clearly illustrated but the part is clearly illustrated and the appeals process is changed as well. They all fit together. If the rule book is better understood not only by the race teams but the entire industry we feel that's a better more transparent way to go forward.
O'Donnell said it's all part of an effort to make the sport more proactive. We want to eliminate as many gray areas as possible he said. But our sport is also built on innovation. So we want to clearly define the areas where teams can go out and innovate because at the end of the day that's what our sport was founded on.
Other areas NASCAR is focusing on include a greater use of technology on pit road a formalized parts submission process a unified inspection model across all three national series and a scheduled inspection system that may allow fans to know exactly when their favorite teams are rolling through the technical area on race weekends.
If there are ways we can bring new technology and new content to the fans O'Donnell said that's first and foremost.
The modernization effort continues a movement that picked up momentum with the introduction of the Generation 6 car which debuted on the Sprint Cup Series this year. A more brand identifiable vehicle it tightened the bonds between passenger cars and their brethren on the race track. As part of this new initiative NASCAR hopes to strengthen those ties over successive generations and bring the vehicles closer together both inside and out.
We rolled out the Gen 6 car which obviously mirrors the body of that car. As we go forward the new Chevrolet car that gets rolled out three four years from now that technology that's in the car O'Donnell said NASCAR (will have) delivered on some of those technologies in partnership with GM. It looks not only like the car on the outside but on the inside as well.
It's all a sweeping initiative and dialogue continues between NASCAR teams and tracks on the details of the plan. O'Donnell said the effort is a long term play that hinges on a reinvestment in greater technology throughout the sport.
We're out talking to the race teams now. We've received some real positive feedback he said. We've still got a number of conversations to have. But I think the way initially the teams look at it is it's very similar to the way they operate they have their team that goes to the race while there's a ton of work going on for the race six months out and preparing cars and getting ready. Those engineers who are working in advance now should be a direct link to our RD Center. We've got to open those lines of communication. I think the Gen 6 was a really good start to that and we've got to expand upon the success of that and really for lack of a better tern formalize that process in everything we do.
Governance Move rule making from Officiating to RD / Innovation Enhance effectiveness of appeals process by redefining process and appeals board member criteria
Rules Simplify rulebook and increase objectivity by replacing written rules with CAD designs Enhance parts approval by formalizing submission and approval process Increase consistency of rule interpretation across National Series
Penalty/Deterrence Strengthen deterrence model to reduce inspection required to ensure competitive racing
Officiating / Inspection Increase use of technology on pit road Maintain rigor of inspection while creating greater efficiency in the entire process Improve efficiency of process by creating race team inspection scheduling system Enhance effectiveness of inspection through data collection and trend analysis Create unified inspecting and officiating model across National Series