Flow Racers is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission.

Do NASCAR Cars Have ABS? (Driver Assists Explained)

There are many advantages to using ABS in road cars, and some of these could translate to stock car racing. However, ABS is not all that common in motorsport. So, you may wonder if NASCAR cars have ABS.

NASCAR cars do not have ABS, nor do they have any other type of driving assist. NASCAR is an organization that distinguishes itself with employing only the best drivers, and they want those drivers to face the ultimate challenge to compete without ABS or other driving assists. 

Below, we will go into detail of why NASCAR cars do not have ABS. We will also uncover how ABS works in road cars, and we will explain what comprises a NASCAR car’s braking system. We will also reveal whether NASCAR has ever used ABS, and if the cars will use it in the future. 

How Does ABS Work?

ABS stands for Anti-Lock Braking System, and it works by effectively ‘pumping’ the brakes (engaging and disengaging the brakes many times per second) during a situation that requires fast, heavy braking. Your car knows when this is necessary thanks to sensors applied on each wheel. 

Your wheel sensors will detect when your brakes start to lock, which often occurs when you are about to skid to an abrupt stop. When your tires are locked and skidding along the ground, they’re providing far less grip. This repetitive pumping helps stop your skid, allowing you to eventually regain control of your road vehicle.  

Efficacy

ABS has been known to reduce the number and severity of road accidents. This is because ABS helps drivers regain control of their road cars. That said, it is not designed to help you stop the car any faster. While decreased stopping distance can occur with ABS, it is not a primary, but a secondary benefit of the system. 

So, for example, if you are on the road and a large vehicle pulls out in front of you, ABS helps you maintain enough control (by allowing your tires to provide enough grip) to quickly swerve around that vehicle instead of stopping your vehicle short of hitting it. Now that you know how effective ABS can be in preventing crashes, you may believe that it would be a fixture in NASCAR. 

Does NASCAR Use ABS?

NASCAR does not use ABS. One reason the cars don’t use ABS is that the sport does not allow driving assists of any kind. Since NASCAR wants the best stock car drivers in the world racing in the series, they expect their drivers to be skilled enough in their craft that they don’t need to use ABS. 

Further, ABS and other driving assists are frowned upon in NASCAR. One good way to think of ABS and other driving assists is akin to what performance-enhancing drugs would be in the NFL, MLB, or NHL. So, if a driver or their team were to get caught sneaking ABS or any other driving assist onto their car, like traction control, they could be looking at fines and even suspensions

Traction Control Fiasco

In the early 2000s, controversy struck NASCAR when some teams accused others of secretly placing traction control devices onto cars that either won or performed exceptionally well during an event. One way NASCAR teams were believed to have gotten away with breaking the rule was that traction control devices were so small they could be smuggled onto a car before a race

Following a race, or shortly before a race reached its conclusion, they were also small enough for a driver to throw them out of the driver’s side window with no one noticing. So, if the traction control saga caused such a stir in NASCAR during the early 2000s, ABS would cause a similar reaction if teams were to sneak them onto their cars

KEY POINTS

• ABS is primarily designed to allow you to remain in control of your car under heavy braking

• NASCAR doesn’t use ABS as it is a driving assist

• The sport is supposed to showcase the best stock car racing drivers in the world, and they shouldn’t be aided by ABS

NASCAR Brakes Explained

NASCAR brakes are lighter than those you would have on your road car, and AP Racing Limited supplies the braking systems for NASCAR’s Next Gen car. AP Racing has been linked to NASCAR since 1987, so it has stood the test of time in supplying NASCAR’s brakes. 

Their high-performance braking system also displays durability, which lets teams use the same brake discs across numerous races if they choose. The technology allows drivers and teams to use the same front and rear six and four piston monobloc calipers regardless of the track they race on, and they give teams two rotor options pertaining to light or heavy braking situations. 

Cutting Costs

The Next Gen braking system is also more cost-effective, one of NASCAR’s many goals involving the Next Gen car itself. Like the wheels on the Next Gen car, NASCAR brake calipers are made of forged aluminum instead of steel, which gives them an even lighter weight. 

However, on all four wheels, you will find disc brakes made from either cast iron or steel, with rotors of 14-inch diameter at the back and 15-inch diameter at the front. As for the brake pad, it differs between whether the cars will be racing on a road course or an oval. Expect thicker ones on the road courses and short tracks, with thinner ones for intermediate tracks and superspeedways. 

Has ABS Ever Been In NASCAR?

ABS has never been used in NASCAR. Since ABS classifies as a driving assist, NASCAR has not approved of its use. Just as the sport is today, NASCAR has historically wanted to attract the best stock car drivers in the world, with the focus entirely on the driver’s skills.

This means no ABS, no traction control, nor any other driving assists that could help the drivers. And through the years, a lack of ABS and other driving assists has ensured the best drivers and the best teams were rewarded. This is a common theme across other motorsports too, which is why F1 has no assists either. 

Will NASCAR Use ABS In The Future?

NASCAR will likely not use ABS in the future. This is because the sport prides itself on showcasing the drivers’ skills more than anything, and allowing for assists like ABS would not only go against this goal, but it would also make the cars more expensive to produce. 

The short answer is that we don’t know what NASCAR will do, since the advent of the Next Gen car has proven NASCAR is no longer as resistant to change as it once was. However, since we also know driving assists like ABS would be frowned upon in NASCAR, it is easier and safer to assume that you will not see the sanctioning body use ABS in the future. 

But then again, if you went back to the year 2007, when the Car of Tomorrow (CoT) first graced the track, would you have guessed the car would have only lasted a few seasons before the Generation 6 car replaced it? And after that, would you have expected all the changes that came with the Next Gen car? Probably not, given NASCAR’s previous insistence on using older technologies

Much Needed Updates

The Next Gen car brought NASCAR firmly into the 21st century, and one of the goals was to make the races more competitive and exciting. The Next Gen car also allowed NASCAR to add more road courses and even a street race to its schedule, which even further tests a driver’s skill set. 

So, while ABS is technically considered a driving assist that would have been taboo 20 seasons ago, as traction control accusations proved, if NASCAR ever believes it will make races more exciting, then you will see those assists in the future. But if NASCAR wants to continue priding their organization based on maximizing driving skill, you will not see them switch to ABS or other assists. 

Do Other Motorsports Use ABS?

Many other top-tier motorsports do not use ABS for the same reasons NASCAR doesn’t use it. They take away from showcasing the driver’s skill, and so you won’t see ABS feature in motorsports like F1, IndyCar or MotoGP, along with many others.

In the past, ABS has been used in F1, starting in 1984. During that time, Niki Lauda raved about the assist following his World Championship run. However, F1 would end up banning ABS in 1994, stating that it compromised a driver’s overall skill. 

Just like in NASCAR, ABS has become frowned upon in major racing leagues like IndyCar and F1, and you probably won’t see them use the assist any time soon. For the foreseeable future, you may see ABS in some non-elite divisions, but it most likely will not be used at the world class level. 

KEY POINTS

• NASCAR has never used ABS 

• While NASCAR could use ABS in future, it’s unlikely to do so

• Most other premier motorsports also outlaw the use of driving assists like ABS

Final Thoughts

NASCAR cars do not have ABS because the governing body wants to ensure their drivers are driving based on skill alone. NASCAR has never used ABS and since ABS is a driving assist, something frowned upon in the sport, you probably will not see it become a part of the racing in future.