NASCAR Explores Electric Racing

NASCAR is exploring electric racing with their brand-new EV and this week you will find out why and what they intend to do with it. You will also find information on Ligier’s hydrogen-powered endurance racer, how Extreme H could herald changes in mobility for society at large and why IndyCar won’t be going all-electric. All this and more in another jam-packed edition of the Sustainable Motorsport Roundup on Motorsport Prospects. Your source for sustainable high performance motorsport news.

Sustainable Motorsport News

NASCAR Explores Electric Racing

The big news this week is that NASCAR finally revealed their eclectric prototype race car at last weekend’s Chicago street race. The EV is a crossover utility vehicle that was built by NASCAR’s research and development team in concert with its three carmakers, Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota, at a cost of $1.5M, NASCAR.

The track-tested, electrified stock car has three STARD UHP 6-Phase motors (one front, two rear) supplying power directly to all four specially designed Goodyear Racing Eagle tires. Anchored by a 78-kWh liquid-cooled battery, the tunable powertrain can produce 1,000 kW at peak power. Regenerative braking converts kinetic energy into power, making the car ideal for road courses and short oval tracks.

The All-Wheel Drive car has a generic Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) body made of sustainable flax-based composite. It shares many similarities with both the Next Gen and Garage 56 cars – the body sits on a modified Next Gen chassis, and the steering, suspension, brakes, and wheels all derive from the NASCAR Cup Series car.

While NASCAR is committed to the historic role of the combustion engine in racing and therefore does not plan to race the car in the near future, it is also committed to decarbonizing its operations and reducing its own carbon footprint to zero across its core operations by 2035 through electrification and innovative solutions as part of their NASCAR Impact program.

NASCAR has made material commitments to sustainable operations across its entire business. Moving operations from scope 1 (fuel burned) to scope 2 (electric) is a critical element of NASCAR’s sustainability strategy.

In addition to the long-term operating emissions goal, NASCAR’s annual carbon measurement informed near-term sustainability priorities, including sourcing 100% renewable electricity at owned race tracks and facilities by 2028, expanded waste diversion efforts, and on-site EV charging stations. ABB will play a critical role in helping NASCAR by providing valuable guidance, equipment, and support in electrifying key elements of the operational business.

Racer talked to NASCAR EV test driver David Ragan about what it is like to drive the car. ““I can’t emphasize enough the regeneration capabilities. When you apply the brakes, it is sending some of that energy through the braking system back through a charger to the battery,” Ragan said. “So that helps the car slow down. We could tune that regen to very, very aggressive where I hardly had to touch the brakes, and that car would stop on a dime.”

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

James Morris of Forbes asks the question, can the world’s first hydrogen race series, Extreme H, change emobility?

“One of the biggest problems with hydrogen is always where it comes from, however. The dream is for it to be “green” – electrolyzed from water using power provided by renewable energy. But green hydrogen still accounts for less than 1% of current hydrogen production. “We’re going try to use green hydrogen,” says Agag. “But there are other hydrogens that are equally good, such as pink hydrogen made using nuclear power. We will definitely not use grey hydrogen – that would defeat the whole point. Blue hydrogen maybe.” Grey hydrogen is made from fossil fuel, usually via steam reforming methane, so provides no noticeable improvement in emissions over combustion. Blue hydrogen captures the emissions from production, however, so can reduce CO2 output, although generally only 85% of this is captured.”

Continuing the theme of hydrogen beyond motorsport Prompted by the launch of Extreme H, The Sustainability Report explains how hydrogen can have a role far beyond motorsport.

“Agag references how Formula E (which he is also chairman of) has leveraged its position at the forefront of the electric automotive industry to develop electric vehicle technology for road cars and aims to position Extreme H in the same way. Both Agag and Grain suggest that Extreme H’s hydrogen technology is drawing interest from undisclosed original equipment manufacturers, but Agag suggests that infrastructure improvements are required to avoid refuelling complications. At first, Agag believes that hydrogen-powered buses, for example, with long driving ranges and able to refuel from a central location will be more feasible.”

In the final article looking at hydrogen beyond motorsport, Energy Digital asks, what does the future look like? “The launch has prompted the energy and automotive industries to rethink their approaches to sustainable energy and has reignited debates around hydrogen and lithium batteries and the place of green energy in the motorsport world.”

Global Sustainable Sport looks at the sustainability implications of Mercedes F1 partnering with sustainable manufacturer Signify.

“Signify recently announced its 2040 Climate Transition Plan, setting out its vision to reach net zero by 2040. The company says it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions across the full value chain by 50% since 2015, and will continue to advocate for energy efficiency and an accelerated energy transition. The partnership will enable Signify to share knowledge and expertise with Mercedes to develop its own Climate Transition Plan.”

NASCAR Explores Electric Racing

Carbon Positive Motorsport has released details on two partnerships that is is working. The first is a new a new carbon project in Wales that they are adding to their project portfolio. The innovative new project, located in Abergavenny, has the capacity to provide over 47,000 tonnes of CO2e capture over the project’s lifetime, through the blended planting of over 1,500 endangered sequoia trees with over 6,000 native broadleaf trees. The project is based at a former monocultural commercial planting site that has been repurposed to bring enhanced local biodiversity benefits with long lasting carbon capture.

The second is a partnership with the Nicky Grist Stages for the third year with ambassadors the multiple Welsh Rally championship winning crew of Matthew Hirst and Declan Dear. The pair will be supporting the event to highlight the inclusion of a new carbon project in Abergavenny in Wales. This project will be used for the first time to help mitigate the event’s unavoidable carbon emissions and supports the planting of over 1,500 sequioa and 6,000 native broadleaf trees. It repurposes a former monocultural commercial tree planting site, and will bring significant improvements to biodiversity on the site.

NASCAR Explores Electric Racing

In the video above, Martin Kochman, VP, of Customers and Industries at Hitachi Vantara, Sam Clarke, Chief Vehicle Officer at GRIDSERVE and Peter Gallagher, Commercial Director at Extreme-E explore the transformative potential of EVs in revolutionizing the transportation sector. EVs represent a promising technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and build more sustainable and resilient economies. The discussion will delve into the latest innovations, trends, and challenges in the EV industry, including the role of EVs in decarbonization efforts, the state of EV the state of EV infrastructure, and the impact of EVs on different industries.

In magazine news, the July 2024 issue of EV Magazine has a feature on Formula E while the August 2024 issue of Race Tech Magazine is packed with sustainable motorsport tech features on everything from Formula 1 to hydrogen in motorsport. You can get your copy here.

Sustainable Motorsport Tech

NASCAR Explores Electric Racing

The time has come for the Forze IX to step out of the shadows of its predecessor, the Forze VIII! Take a look at how the Forze VIII embarks on a final mission to pass his wisdom on to the Forze IX. Like the passing of the Olympic torch, this moment symbolises the transfer of legacy and ambition!

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

Defying convention, IndyCar started the second half of their season at Mid-Ohio with their new hybrid engine and by all accounts it was a success.

“The performance of the new IndyCar hybrid power unit at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was impactful and highly encouraging,” a statement from the series read. “All stakeholders in the IndyCar paddock share in the pride and excitement for the future that this milestone has generated. It is the result of a truly unique collaboration between Chevrolet and Honda and the culmination of hundreds of hours of engineering, preparation, testing and execution. IndyCar looks forward to the continued evolution of the hybrid power unit as teams and drivers fine-tune the system to optimize performance beginning with the first use of horsepower assist on an oval next weekend at Iowa Speedway.”

Autosport offers their verdict on the switch. “Even with all the time spent in preparation, there was still a feeling that the switch to the new hybrid unit felt rushed and would have been better served to launch in 2025 after more testing, and maybe even with increased power and less weight.”

NASCAR Explores Electric Racing

I have mentioned before in this column Ligier’s hydrogen-powered JS2 RH2 and here are two great articles from the manufacturer with some more details on the potential racer at Le Mans.

“In recent months, Bosch Engineering and Ligier Automotive have further modified the vehicle. By systematic application, a high power of 443 kW, a torque of 650 Nm and an excellent transient response of the 3.0-l biturbo hydrogen engine could be achieved. In addition, the robustness and long-term performance of the hydrogen systems under extreme operating conditions and at outside temperatures from 0° to +35°C were ensured by extensive tests and simulations. As part of the high-speed tests, the vehicle repeatedly reached a top speed of over 280 km/h without irregularities and thus the potential for a top speed close to 300 km/h. Overall, the vehicle completed more than 5,000 test kilometers on the racetrack under high loads without any special abnormalities. This roughly corresponds to the race distance covered by the winning teams at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in recent years.”

While Ligier is boldly moving towards hydrogen in their motorsport activities, Lamborghini not so much. “We are a small brand, and this applies also to technology development. We have to focus on what is our priority. We cannot spread our effort on 10,000 different things. We have a clear strategy and hydrogen is not on our priority list.”

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

Electrified Magazine has put together the key specs of Extreme H’s Pioneer 25 hydrogen-powered racer I featured last week.

Key Specs For The Pioneer 25:

  • Top speed (mph): 124
  • Max power (kW/bhp): 400/550
  • Weight (lb): 4,850
  • Dimensions (ft): 19.7 x 6.2 x 7.9
  • Wheelbase (ft): 10.5
  • Chassis: Tubular space frame with composite energy absorbing impact structures
  • Suspension (f/r): Double wishbone
  • Shock absorbers: Supplied and supported trackside by Fox and feature driver controlled on-track adjustability via Live Valve technology.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell output (kW/V): 75/450-850
  • Battery output (kW/V/kWh: 325/850V/36
  • Hydrogen capacity (L): 50
  • eMotors: Front and rear, 200 kW power each
  • Acceleration, 0-62 mph (sec): 4.5
  • Central single seat driving position

Formula E GEN3 Evo

Electrified Magazine also looked at Formula E’s GEN3 Evo race car. “The GEN3 Evo rockets from 0 to 60 mph in a jaw-dropping 1.82 seconds (0-100 kph in 1.86 seconds). That’s 30 percent faster than the current Formula 1 cars. The sheer acceleration pins you to the seat, leaving your heart racing. Power is supplied by a 469-horsepower electric motor mounted transversely between the rear wheels.”

PMW has an exclusive interview with Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrain’s Hywel Thomas. “It has all evolved a lot. If you look at how we were doing things in 2013-14, and how we are operating the power unit now, we are much more sophisticated. The organization has developed, the ways of working and the technology have developed. But the underlying goals for integration, making sure you haven’t got four or five different products fighting together, that remains.”

NASCAR Explores Electric Racing

A recent research project by the Technical University of Darmstadt was funded by the ADAC Foundation and supported by the German Motorsport Association found that P1 Fossil-free fuel reduces CO₂ emissions by up to 80 percent.

“The study results are encouraging and show that even existing vehicles can be converted to sustainable and climate-friendly mobility,” said Karsten Schulze, Chairman of the ADAC Foundation Board of Trustees and ADAC e.V. Technology President. “Additionally, there is good news for junior and amateur motorsport enthusiasts: car and motorcycle races can completely abandon fossil fuels without major technical effort. Unfortunately, this progress is currently overshadowed by the high sales price.”

The research project “Replacing fossil fuels with synthetic fuels in motorsport” by the Technical University of Darmstadt was funded by the ADAC Foundation and supported by the German Motorsport Association. The study, including detailed descriptions of the experimental setup, measurement techniques, and results on fuel consumption, emissions, oil analysis, efficiency, exhaust temperatures, speed profiles, etc., can be found here.

Sustainable Racing

NASCAR Explores Electric Racing
TeamSport E-Karting Kart Palast Funpark München-West Hot lap Raceway 1

Series News

Sustainable Motorsport Roundup

Formula 1 piloted a low-carbon energy system at the recent Austrian Grand Prix delivering an estimated 90% carbon reduction of the operation of Paddock, Pitlane and F1 broadcast area, compared to last year’s race.

Ian Stone, Logistics Director, Formula 1: “This energy trial is the latest push for more sustainable operations, which feeds into our overall goal of being Net Zero by 2030 and shows the desire across the paddock from key stakeholders, who have bought into the ambition and understanding of why it is important too. There’s not only the obvious benefit of reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, but logistically it offers us the opportunity to create a more streamlined approach to powering Grand Prix events.”

Not to be outdone, former F1 champion Nico Rosberg’s Rosberg Philanthropies and Oxford University worked to decarbonise last weekend’s British Formula 1 race at Silverstone.

Our Rosberg Philanthropies partnership project with the The Oxford SDG Impact Lab, Formula 1 and Silverstone will merge two of my big passions: innovation and motorsports,

The actionable research headed up by Oxford University at Silverstone centres on two key areas:

  • Fan travel
  • Biodiversity

These two work hand in hand – by analysing the air quality of the area in conjunction with fan travel habits, the research can assess the impact on local biodiversity. It aims to provide recommendations to make a real impact on the race’s sustainability.

Nico Rosberg Drives Decarbonisation at Silverstone Formula 1

Continuing with Formula 1, BlackBook Motorsport spoke with Zero Petroleum’s (and former Mercedes and Williams engineer) Paddy Lowe on why synthetic fuels have real-world relevance and are also set to revolutionize motorsport’s pinnacle series.

“The very important point is how [synthetic] fuels distinguish themselves from fuels generated from biological material, whether they be direct, such as wheat, corn, or soya, or whether they come from waste agricultural products, such as used cooking oil,” Lowe explains to BlackBook Motorsport. Synthetics are generated from green hydrogen, which is made by splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen using renewable electricity and carbon dioxide originally from the atmosphere. If you really want to substitute the fossil fuel industry with something entirely sustainable and circular, it will need to be from the synthetic solution, not biofuels.”

Formula E

As the financial picture for Formula E improves, James Gilboy of The Drive argues that, while Formula E isn’t perfect, it does some things better than Formula 1.

“Indycar also benefits from exiting the last corner on slicks, which Formula E doesn’t use. Instead, the tires on an FE car are hard, with low rolling resistance, while the chassis comparatively lack downforce. That makes FE machines more reliant on mechanical grip than most top-level race series, but less sensitive to being over-driven, and not as crippled by aero damage. I watched Pascal Wehrlein fight for the lead for more than half the race after losing his front wing—something you’d never see that in F1. In turn, that means dirty air is almost a non-factor, making passing attempts much easier. That also means more failed passing attempts, and more “racing incidents,” if you catch my drift. Again: $40 to sit at turn one.”

Despite their move to hybrid engines, IndyCar has no plans to go all-electric. “Each series has their own identity, their own niche of what they do,” said series president Jay Frye. “[At] INDYCAR, we certainly have no aspirations of being a fully electric series. We’re fast, loud and authentic, that type of thing. [The hybrid] is an enhancement to our overall program. This is something that is very relevant in street cars and in passenger cars. We think the hybrid program is the way to go into the future.”

Norisring DTM street race

While 600 helpers construct the track for last weekend’s Norisring DTM street race, organizers are concerned that the future of the race could be in danger. “The fight against environmental lobbyists and environmental associations is getting bigger and bigger. That’s why we’ve already got to the point where we’re starting an electric theme and have it in our program. Almost 50% of the races that take place at the Norisring this weekend will be electric,” he added, referring to the Swedish NXT Gen Cup support series, which will run with fully-electric Mini Cooper cars.”

Daily Sportscar speculates on who will be the next manufacturer to join Hypercar/GTP after the recent rules extension. Specifically they look at the prospects of McLaren, Hyundai and Ford joining the show. They also look at a few other manufacturers that may be in play with an interesting observation about Lotus.

“The presence of Lotus in the hydrogen Village at Le Mans indicates some engagement at least with the rule-makers from the Geely-owned brand, though this is far more likely to be for a further future ev/hydrogen-fuelled prospect.”

The SUN Minimeal Team will join Extreme E‘s transition to Extreme H in 2025, retaining their driver lineup of Klara Andersson and Timo Scheider according to The Checkered Flag. “Owned by Swiss food company SUN AG, the team is new for the 2024 XE season; the Minimeal is a plant-based snack. Andersson joined the programme after finishing sixth in the 2023 standings with ABT CUPRA XE, who left the series at the end of the year, while Scheider was with Carl Cox Motorsport where the new team placed ninth.”

Goodyear FIA ETRC

The Goodyear FIA ETRC promoter has announced that the series has achieved FIA Three Star environmental accreditation. “The Three-Star FIA Environmental Accreditation validates our significant efforts in promoting sustainability in truck racing and underscores the collective commitment and shared strive for sustainability with our long-standing partners, local organisers and dedicated race teams.”

“We will continue to pursue sustainability and innovation, underscoring our commitment to serving as a leading platform for sustainable technologies in the road haulage industry and driving forward the acceptance of alternative technologies.”

Mark Boudreau
Author: Mark Boudreau

Mark is the publisher of Motorsport Prospects. As a former lawyer, he applies his legal background and research skills to assist race drivers by showcasing the resources they need to make their motorsport careers happen.