While they are not road cars, NASCAR cars do contain several similar key components, like engines, ignition systems, and fuel. The cars also function in much the same way, relying on the combustion engine to generate drive. Knowing this, you may therefore wonder if NASCAR cars have batteries.
NASCAR cars do have batteries because, like a production car, they need batteries in order to operate. NASCAR cars use lithium batteries, but they may also use Absorbable Glass Mat (AGM) batteries. There is no single vendor distributing NASCAR batteries, contrary to other Next Gen components.
Below, we will discuss what types of batteries NASCAR cars use and why they need batteries. We will also reveal whether NASCAR will ever go fully electric in the future, but not before we touch on whether NASCAR cars contain other essential components like alternators.
Do NASCAR Cars Need Batteries?
NASCAR cars do need batteries for the same reason your average road car needs one. They are used to provide energy to the starter motor that gets the engine running. However, they’re also used to power all the electronics within the car, including the rear view camera and various sensors.
There is nothing more frustrating when you go out to start up your car only to be in for a nasty surprise: The battery stopped working. Now you are out of luck – at least until you can jump your car and drive to the nearest auto parts store to get a new one installed. And you may feel that you’d rather drive cars like those you see in NASCAR since you never heard they have batteries.
And while it is a lightly covered topic online and not mentioned often during a broadcast, the truth is, just like your road vehicle, NASCAR cars do need batteries. The main reason is that the battery gives the car power to start the engine.
Without the battery acting as the catalyst to start the car and ensure it can drive for the entire length of the race, neither NASCAR cars nor your own car would run. Once the driver starts the engine, an electrical current travels to the starter relay, and finally it sends voltage to the starter motor.
One Battery-Related Question
In October 2008, one fan asked a battery-related question to former crew chief Tim Brewer, inquiring if it would be easier to change the battery via quick connect if the battery was under the hood and to the right of the old Generation Five cars as opposed to its location under the wheel well.
Brewer stated that while this would be easier, it wouldn’t have been a safe location for the battery. This is because such a location could cause the battery to burst upon impact into the SAFER Barrier, hence its location toward the left and at the lower portion.
During the Generation Five era, which lasted between 2007 (on a part-time basis) and 2012, the battery’s location also contributed to the car’s overall balance. Besides the balance, Brewer further stated the location was also safer because it kept the battery further from the driver.
Despite the location not being as convenient for NASCAR teams to change, Brewer also mentioned that it took roughly 30 seconds to change the battery. He also noted many cars had two batteries, and a flick of the switch changed them. Things may have changed since the Gen 5 cars, but you can guarantee the battery placement is still decided on the basis of safety.
Ty Dillon Hits Timmy Hill’s Battery
On lap 134 at the Michigan race in 2018, Ty Dillon ran over a piece of debris that caused him to go straight on into the barriers. At first it was unclear what he hit, but radio from Timmy Hill’s car indicated he lost power on his dash and the team suggested the battery may be gone. It was therefore deduced that Ty Dillon had actually run over the battery that had fallen out of Timmy Hill’s car.
While a very rare incident, this is an example of how destructive debris can be for cars travelling at speeds close to 200 mph. It’s also an example of how, even with strict safety standards, things can go wrong – even if that means a battery falls out of your car!
What Batteries Do NASCAR Cars Use?
NASCAR cars use lithium ion batteries, and they can be sourced from various manufacturers. NASCAR has used lithium batteries in the past, along with lead acid batteries. One manufacturer that supplies NASCAR batteries is Braille Battery, a company based in Florida.
When NASCAR unveiled their Next Gen cars, they also listed specific vendors whose products they required each NASCAR team to purchase products from. For example, BBS of America, Inc. outsources the wheels while Goodyear outsources the tires. As for batteries, there is no particular brand name teams are required to purchase from, much like the steering wheels.
NASCAR cars require a specific type of battery, called lithium batteries. They have also used Absorbable Glass Mat (AGM) lead acid batteries, with the Sarasota, Florida-based Braille Battery supplying top teams in NASCAR. Braille has also supplied teams in open wheel racing leagues like IndyCar, Formula 1, and V8 Supercars.
One major reason the cars use lithium ion batteries is because of their light weight. And in NASCAR, lighter is better so long as the car reaches its minimum weight. The lithium ion batteries used in NASCAR weigh just eight pounds. These batteries are also known for their incredible power, plus their ability to recharge quickly.
Batteries Used In NASCAR
|Braille MicroLite ML20C Lithium Battery||Specs|
|Pulse Cranking Amps||1325 A|
|Life Cycle @ 10% DOD||5000|
NASCAR has always been that one sanctioning body that follows the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. And while AGM racing batteries remain a thing, lithium has become the dominant type of battery because of the reasons mentioned in the above section and their longer life span. Other lithium brands include Lithium Pro, Antigravity Batteries, A123 Batteries, GreenLife and Go Lithium.
AGM Batteries In NASCAR
While lithium is the preferred choice, it is also worth mentioning AGM batteries, as some teams believe they are the better type of battery instead of lithium. They are just as reliable as lithium, and they are also phenomenal at withstanding the high energy demands required from NASCAR cars.
Many teams have opted to use Odyssey batteries, which are manufactured from EnerSys, the NASCAR Racing Experiences (NRE) official battery partner. They contain a non-spillable design, which helps them sustain a longer battery life. The design also helps them withstand vibrations, plus shock from high impacts during collisions.
Braille Racing Batteries also offer AGMs to NASCAR, along with XS Power Batteries, and Optima Batteries.
KEY POINTS• NASCAR cars do have batteries, and they need them to be able to start the engines
• NASCAR primarily uses lithium ion batteries
• Batteries may be sourced from a variety of manufacturers
Do NASCAR Cars Have Alternators?
Regardless of the generation of cars, if you know anything about NASCAR cars, it is that they are dramatically different from production cars. NASCAR cars contain components like spoilers and roof flaps to try and keep the cars grounded. They also require a special type of fuel called Sunoco Green E15 racing fuel, and they don’t have mufflers, which explains their loud noise.
And while there are no mufflers on the cars, they do have components like alternators, oil pumps, coolant pumps, and steering pumps for the power steering. However, these are not the same types of alternators you would find in a production car, because NASCAR mechanics must build them to withstand the high temperatures and speeds the cars and their components reach.
NASCAR’s Strict Guidelines
And just as with many specs in NASCAR, the sanctioning body is also strict when it comes to alternators. Take, for example, the 2019 August race from Michigan International Speedway. Following a qualifying run from Austin Dillon, he and team owner Richard Childress initially believed they would be set to start in the top 10.
But following an inspection from NASCAR, the sanctioning body discovered the alternators were not functioning in both Dillon’s car and that of his teammate, Daniel Hemric. While an upset Childress admitted he and his teams were wrong, he also stated that he believed NASCAR and everyone else was wrong upon looking at and interpreting the rules.
His reasoning? It all stemmed from the usage of a belt, something he claimed no one used when they qualified for races. He further cited miscommunication and misunderstanding as further reasoning behind the confusion.
The miscommunication stemmed from the fact that NASCAR rules allow teams to take the alternator belts off for one and two laps’ worth of qualifying. But the rules contradicted themselves, simultaneously stating the cars needed a fully functional alternator. But they cannot be fully functional without the belt!
As you see in many instances when NASCAR teams fail inspections, repercussions often come in the form of fines and docked owner points. Repeat offenses can lead to suspensions. But in Richard Childress Racing’s case, NASCAR fined each team $25,000, totaling a $50,000 fine since both Dillon’s and Hemric’s cars were hit with the same infraction. Each team lost 10 driver and owner points apiece.
Will NASCAR Ever Go Fully Electric?
NASCAR is unlikely to go fully electric at any time soon, although the sport may head towards a hybrid power system in 2024. Given NASCAR’s roots and the sanctioning body’s tendency to be slow to adopt the latest technologies, we probably won’t see electric NASCAR racing for a long time.
With electrical vehicles in high demand and the burning of fossil fuels seeing much lower demand, this may spell the end of one era and the dawn of another in NASCAR sooner rather than later. Yet as for whether NASCAR will ever go fully electric, the answer is not yet clear-cut. But if the sanctioning body opts for fully electric rides, don’t expect it to occur overnight.
As with any big change, it will take a process that will first involve the use of a hybrid powertrain, which NASCAR plans on switching to in 2024. From there, we will likely see the powertrains used on a part-time basis, much like we saw with the Generation Five cars in 2007. Expect to see the hybrid powertrains debut on short tracks and road courses that season at the earliest.
The reason for starting the hybrid powertrains out on road courses is because of the regenerative braking system. By using this system on road courses and short tracks, NASCAR cars are slowing down more in the corners, which would allow them to recover energy that the electric motor would then use to accelerate into a straightaway. This would be less significant on fast ovals.
Manufacturers’ Pledges And Market Demand
Another kicker is that NASCAR’s manufacturers all pledge to go electric (in terms of their production cars) by the year 2035. And in the hybrid areas, Ford and Toyota are already driving the market while Chevrolet isn’t far behind.
But NASCAR also needs their fans to attend and enjoy races. So ultimately, consumer demand will determine whether NASCAR goes fully electric. NASCAR fans love noise, and you can say the same for Formula 1 and IndyCar fans. The overall sound allows auto racing fans beyond NASCAR spheres to literally feel the action. This is something electric vehicles may not emulate.
This is not to say NASCAR won’t at least test fully electric cars when the time comes, especially if they hold onto Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota. But a fully electric NASCAR Cup Series would need a healthy dose of entertainment that will make fans want to tune in, attend races, and keep following the sport.
NASCAR cars do have batteries because, just like production cars, NASCAR cars need batteries to start their engines. The types of batteries used do not come from just one vendor, and teams may even use different types of batteries including either lithium ion or ASG batteries.