News & Media

Testing helps put finishing touches on 2013 cars

November 05, 2012, Holly Cain, Special to NASCAR.COM,

CONCORD, N.C. -- Since May 2010, the future of NASCAR has frequently resided in a massive, non-descript building overlooking a busy North Carolina interstate.

Security is high and technology even higher at the Windshear wind tunnel facility, where NASCAR and its teams have been testing, tweaking and now touting the Toyota Camrys, Ford Fusions and Chevrolet SSs that are being prepped for their 2013 Sprint Cup competition debut.

"It will be a far, far better race car to start off with, and then the teams will take it to the next level."


NASCAR gave reporters rare access to Windshear's Concord, N.C., facility on Monday and was proud to report good progress on the new cars. Their introduction to competition is one of the most significant developments in the sport's recent history, marking a return to strong manufacturer brand identity and resemblance between race car and street car.

While fans will make an immediate connection between what's being raced on Sundays and driven on Mondays, NASCAR still is putting the finishing touches on the race product. That's meant extensive testing in the James Bond-worthy wind tunnel -- where a one-day test is so secretive that test data is destroyed immediately after being passed along to the team or manufacturer.

Equally as important in developing the cars are a series of track tests, such as a Goodyear test session Tuesday and Wednesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"Facilities like [Windshear] will help us be closer with the car when it's delivered to the teams for competition," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition. "We're doing development work rather than picking a set of rules and saying, 'they'll fix it.' We're trying to work with these teams, the manufacturers and aerodynamicists to try and put this car in a better place when it's delivered to the teams.

"This car will be a lot closer than the other one [Car of Tomorrow] by -- I can't even put a number on it -- taking the experiences we've had over the years and the opportunity to work with teams and the manufacturers and have better facilities to test with. We're not just putting it in the teams' hands and hoping. Hoping isn't a plan. We're trying to get it as close as we can."

While the tests this week are primarily for Goodyear, they provide another "real-time" opportunity to see how the new package performs in a group setting.

It might surprise some people that NASCAR has held manufacturer round tables to make sure everyone is on the same page, at least initially.

"They see where you are, the result of the test, and it helps move everything forward because everyone's integrated as the process has gone on," Pemberton said. "We give the parameters. The goal is to not have anybody have a big disadvantage. There's a lot of adjustability built into the car."

Although he joked that the car is on track to be approved "when we throw the flag for the Daytona 500," Pemberton is encouraged by the progress and says things are on schedule for the season debut.

"We've got a couple more good tests this week and follow-ups that are bits and pieces," Pemberton said. "The shape of the car is done, and we're just working on fine-tuning the front and underbody and rear with the spoiler. We're concentrating on the front of the car right now. That's the big push. We've had a healthy test plan, and we're making sure we can put a check in as many boxes as we can.

"It goes back to us getting the car more developed when we hand the car off. It will be a far, far better race car to start off with, and then the teams will take it to the next level."