Does NASCAR Use Mufflers? Will They Ever?

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You may wonder whether NASCAR uses mufflers given the loud sounds 40 cars can make on the track. There are many components on road cars that NASCAR cars do not have, like traction control and ABS, but you may wonder if the cars have mufflers now, or if they ever will.

NASCAR does not use mufflers. While mufflers are convenient for road cars, they hinder the exhaust system and would therefore reduce the power of the engines. NASCAR is all about performance, and so they will likely not be implemented as long as they impact this performance. 

Below, we will outline how mufflers work on your production car before we elaborate on why NASCAR does not use mufflers. We will also discuss NASCAR exhaust systems, and if there will ever come a time for NASCAR to implement mufflers. 

How Do Mufflers Work?

There are many loud noises that you might just find downright annoying, and for many, a loud car is one of those noises. Luckily, mufflers literally muffle the loud sound of an engine. They consist of just a simple structure of tubes and chambers and their sole purpose is to negate the loud sounds engines can make. 

If you were to take a muffler and dissect it, you would find two primary tubes, and the center tube is where the sound waves your engine creates and exhaust gases enter. Once inside, they ricochet off the muffler’s back end, and redirect into a hole, forcing them into the main chamber. Here, they travel through numerous holes, and into another chamber before exiting. 

While the specifics of the muffler vary by manufacturer and type, this is the basic premise of how they work. This keeps your road car running quietly down the road so it won’t be a hindrance to your neighbors, especially if you are leaving for work in the early morning, or late in the evening. 

Do NASCAR Cars Use Mufflers?

NASCAR cars do not use mufflers, and they may never use them. Mufflers limit the rate at which exhaust gases can be expelled out of the engine, and this in turn reduces its power. NASCAR is all about performance, and so mufflers aren’t used and likely never will be.

If you have ever attended a NASCAR race, you may have brought ear plugs. This is because NASCAR cars do not have mufflers. If you ask many sports fans why NASCAR cars are so loud, they may respond that NASCAR wants them to be loud, but that’s actually far from the case. NASCAR does almost everything to either improve the racing or improve safety, including keeping mufflers off their cars. 

In NASCAR, performance is everything. And in your production car, performance is not everything, so you can get away with negating some performance in exchange for quieter cars

Mufflers slow down the exhaust cycle, by limiting the rate at which air can be expelled out of the exhaust. In NASCAR, they would be a hindrance to the cars’ performance. From NASCAR’s earliest days, drivers and teams realized they could race faster without the muffler. So, they did the only thing that made sense and took them off!

NASCAR Exhaust Systems

NASCAR stuck with a similar exhaust system for decades, but when they unveiled the Next Gen car, the exhaust system was one of many areas of the cars that saw some changes. The latest NASCAR exhaust system was to comprise one exhaust pipe on both sides of the cars. This wasn’t the case in previous generations of NASCAR cars, as their exhaust system was confined to only the right-hand side. 

However, during driver testing in late 2021, drivers and fans praised the sounds of the exhaust system. The drivers stated the new system’s sounds did not differ so much from what they grew used to on the Generation 6 cars. But they did note that, because of the new positioning, heat was a factor. 

The Hot Cars Got Hotter

There is no air conditioning inside a NASCAR car, aside from the hose that attaches to a driver’s helmet that simply moves the air around. Because of this, NASCAR cars can reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius)

With one of the exhausts running under the (very low) driver’s seat, you can imagine how much hotter it could get inside the car. Denny Hamlin commented on this heat, and by October, NASCAR unveiled changes to address the exhaust, which then only ran to the car’s door area. Now that the vents ended in their new spot, the problem was resolved, and the new exhaust system remained.

KEY POINTS

• NASCAR doesn’t use mufflers as they restrict performance

• Mufflers work by dissipating sound and heat energy within the exhaust to reduce the noise the car produces

• NASCAR cars use a double exhaust system, with one on the left side of the car and one on the right

Has NASCAR Ever Used Mufflers?

NASCAR has never used mufflers since they can hinder the performance of the cars. In NASCAR’s earliest days when there weren’t as many specific rules in the sport, teams did everything they could to make the cars go faster, and one of these things involved removing the mufflers.

Therefore, regardless of whether you watch video of the 1959 Daytona 500 or the 2022 Daytona 500, you will notice one common denominator: the cars sound pretty similar to one another. While the Generation 1 car and the Next Gen car have many night and day differences, sound links the two eras together.

Through the decades, there has been talk about potentially adding mufflers to the cars. Despite the talk, NASCAR has yet to mandate mufflers in any era of the sport. Given how important the sound is to the spectacle of a NASCAR race, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see mufflers make an appearance. 

Will NASCAR Ever Use Mufflers?

NASCAR is unlikely to use mufflers any time soon, although it could happen in the more distant future. NASCAR may opt for some sort of sound muffling system if it receives positive feedback from fans, but this may be tough in a sport that is so well known for the sounds the cars produce.

In 2017, NASCAR proposed a set of rule changes in the hopes of increasing its fanbase. You may have noticed those changes, such as the addition of race stages, more road courses, and the introduction of the Next Gen car. One change added to the list was the potential addition of mufflers, or at least finding a way to make the cars quieter. 

This is because, unless you are interested in texting the person next to you for 3-5 hours, it is not easy to hold a conversation with your friends or those sitting next to you in the grandstand during a race. If you find yourself at an MLB or NHL game, it is far easier to meet people and talk. 

As with all other changes in NASCAR, finding ways to muffle the cars would be gradual, as they would hope to avoid sacrificing the racing product. It should also be noted that NASCAR probably would not completely muffle the cars, since a strong portion of the fanbase identifies NASCAR with those loud engine sounds. 

Instead, they would tweak the sound, evaluate fan feedback, and tweak again until they get positive results. Don’t rule out the possibility of NASCAR using mufflers in the future, but that does not mean they want the cars to be completely silent either. It’s unlikely to happen very soon, but it could still happen eventually. 

KEY POINTS

• NASCAR has never mandated the use of mufflers

• They reduce the power output of the engines, which is not ideal in a sport that’s all about performance

• However, NASCAR may seek to reduce the sounds of the cars in future

Final Thoughts

NASCAR does not use mufflers because mufflers would restrict the exhaust flow and hinder its power. Because there are no mufflers, NASCAR cars are substantially louder than your production car. NASCAR has never used mufflers since it was found early that they limit a car’s performance.