Friday, 15 May 2009

Strictly Stock Mileage

A few weeks ago we were to learn that NASCAR driver Carl Edwards had driven his Ford Fusion Hybrid to a distance of 1445.7 miles that covers an 81.5 mpg. Which is great. Then VW’s SEAT repeated the success reaching 970.6 miles with one tank of diesel (i.e. 12.03 gallons) in an Ibiza model, which suggests a very similar outcome: 81.1 mpg. Though neither of them could beat the Honda Insight’s 106.2 mpg I started thinking… Hey, actually it would make a great race! Thus I started working out the details.

Ford asking Mr. Edwards for this eco-run twisted up my imagination because NASCAR is known for its budget-economy (compared to other series with the same success) but mileage is measured by great races i.e. Daytona 500, for example. Well, to be honest racing in general is not about being conscious about the vehicle’s fuel consumption but has affecting roles sometimes. In addition, Ford has the Fusion in the NASCAR league but ironically it doesn’t have anything to do with the one Mr. Edwards was driving the other day. Actually neither of the cars in the top ’stock’ class does. Even the Chevrolet Impala SS is now a FWD along with the Fusion and the Toyota Camry although the SS has a V8 engine at least. It is the Dodge Charger that has the most to relate to its racing ’variant’ for it is a RWD and has a V8 under the hood. Also, note that the motors all NASCAR racecars run with are based on the ones MOPAR developed many-many years ago for the series, so again it’s one credit plus for the Charger’s validity. But still, let’s face it: the current ’Sprint Cup Series’ is just a blatant parody of the spirit of the late ’Simply Stock’ category despite the fact that the ’Sprint’ is the direct legal descendant of it. Now here comes the idea: why not bring the ’Stock’ category back with actual stock cars combining the race with eco-factors?

OK, here’s the deal: yet the whole hybrid-fever is just a flash in the consumption race. It has a lot more to develop, still. People in America relax their consciousness by believing that they can save the industry and the Earth by converting the cars to hybrid. Unfortunately not up to the point when it is relevant. You see you can convert ANY car to an eco-ride by not travelling in it alone but filling it up with people. Also, proper shifting, clutching, braking, pre-planning can save you literally GALLONS of fuel while all the flashy engine upgrades like start-stop automatics can save just a few onuces. People just need to be aware that it is DRIVING and ATTITUDE that makes the ride ECONOMIC to the most percents, NOT the CAR itself. That is what Mr. Edwars had proved the audience with his ride, but Ford tends to attribute it to their achievement with the Fusion itself. Disproof: the SEAT Ibiza diesel that has been just mentioned above.

So the greatest advertisement for eco-driving would ironically be a race running with stock cars. Just imagine: running the street equivalents of the NASCAR-representatives on the same tracks, like Daytona, Bristol, Talladega, Martinsville. Amount of fuel teams could use during a race weekend (or more likely in the final run itself) would be limited below the level the race could have been achieved by putting the pedal to the metal. Also, while pitting, just a maximum limited amount of fuel should be filled into the tank along with a much smaller tank inserted into the cars than they actually have thus forcing teams to work out strategy much carefully concerning fast/eco driving and periods of pitting making the day more exciting.

Of course the cars should have all necessary safety equipments (like rollcages, electricity-disengagement system, racing tires and maybe suspension as well, etc.) to avoid drivers’ injuries to the most with the extension that the car should weigh the same as the ’street’ version (so some stock equipments, like backseats or A/C system could be removed) along with they being street legal in all states in America. And finally: DON’T TOUCH THE ENGINE! Although there is a lot more to consumption than the engine itself most prominently – weight, that is why the stock weight of the car should be retained and like I said, driving that is the core of the whole race, the stock engine is a key in reliability as well. Also, drivers saving fuel during the weekend could get extra points for their economic driving, the more saved the more scored.

Would people be interested in such a thing? Sure! The interesting thing is that despite the fact everybody is aware of the fact that NASCAR cars do not have a bit to do with the ones running outside the track, they are still highly popular because of their stock looks. However the big question today is not how fast the average street car can run but rather it is expensive to maintain, or not. Thus making up a series like that (highly expressing the fact that economy is in the feet) would be more true to the original spirit of Stock Car Racing.

Please vote on the right if you like the idea!

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