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.
Maybe if I were an avid NASCAR fan I would understand the reason for all the security issues surrounding the processor. Why should the software controlling engine performance be considered differently than the many mechanical tweaks used to outperform competitors? Engine performance ultimately hinges on the mechanical design anyway, so software changes can only go so far to improve performance until the track is littered with pistons.
Way to lead the way NASCAR!
Quote: Carburetors were the usual fuel delivery method for most U.S. made gasoline-fueled engines up until the late 1980s, when fuel injection became the preferred method of automotive fuel delivery. In the U.S. market, the last carbureted cars were:
* 1990 (General public) : Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, Buick Estate Wagon
* 1991 (Police) : Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor with the 5.8 L (351 cu in) engine.
* 1991 (SUV) : Jeep Grand Wagoneer with the AMC 360 engine.
* 1994 (Light truck) : Isuzu
What a great move on the part of NASCAR! I wonder what type of innovations we will see as a result of the switch to fuel injection? Nice partnership deal with Freescale as well, I am sure the marketing group is ecstatic. When will we get more details on the engine performance changes now with the new system? Looking forward to the new more realistic racing platforms.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.