SAN FRANCISCO—The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing Inc. (NASCAR) will use fuel injection systems in race cars for the first time in 2012 through a partnership with Freescale Semiconductor Inc. and McLaren Electronic Systems Ltd., NASCAR announced Friday (Feb. 11).
Freescale (Austin, Texas) will provide the processors for the McLaren engine control units (ECUs) that will be used to manage the fuel and ignition systems in the engines for all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars, replacing carburetors for the first time in NASCAR history.
NASCAR said the announcement marks the most significant strategic change to the organization's engine platform in decades.
NASCAR and its top series teams will test the technology during the 2011 season with the anticipation of the systems being rolled out for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, NASCAR said. Beginning in 2012, every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team will be using a control system with Freescale’s 32-bit Power Architecture based engine management processors at its core, NASCAR said.
According to Peter van Manen, McLaren's managing director, NASCAR had been hesitant to switch from carburetors to fuel injection systems, in part because of concerns that it would make it possible for teams to gain competitive advantages by tampering with the fuel injection systems. But McLaren's ECUs have proven security features that render them inoperable if any unauthorized software code is ported to the system, Manen said. The ECUs are also mechanically sealed at the factory so that they cannot be opened, he said.
Manen said NASCAR felt the time was right to switch to fuel injection, which makes the NASCAR cars more representative of the vehicles on the road today, because the McLaren ECUs provide "bullet proof" security, Manen said.
Fuel injection, a system for combing air with fuel in internal combustion engines, ensures that the optimum amount of fuel is pushed into the engine's combustion chamber under all operating conditions. Fuel injection gained popularity with the rise of automotive emissions standards and is now standard equipment on cars in the U.S. and elsewhere.
NASCAR said he fuel injection program would improve the efficiency of NASCAR Sprint Cup series cars while complementing the cars' performance.