Brian Vickers takes 2015 Toyota Camry to track during Fontana tire test (VIDEO)


As we told you yesterday, four Sprint Cup drivers are out at Auto Club Speedway in California testing for Goodyear in advance of the 2015 season.

But one of those drivers, Michael Waltrip Racing’s Brian Vickers, isn’t just testing tires. He’s also getting in laps with Toyota’s newest version of the Camry, which broke cover a few weeks ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR’s ban on private testing following this year’s Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway means that the Toyota camp doesn’t have much more time to have its new Camry get on the track. Of course, that makes Vickers’ work at Fontana important.

Even if it’s a bit of a bore from his perspective.

“I don’t know if you have ever been to a test, but it isn’t very exciting for a race car driver,” Vickers said. “I drive for a couple of laps, tell them what I feel, then the engineers will pour over the data, make some changes and back I go out on the track. We just repeat that throughout the day.

“It might not be as fun as racing but testing is where we learn what the Goodyear tires, our car and engine like and don’t like. I enjoy the science behind testing. The more you learn in testing, the better you will be in the race.

“With the reduction in testing planned for next season, days like this are very valuable. So far, I love what I see with the new Camry. It looks good, and drives good.”

Toyota will be the first of NASCAR’s three Cup manufacturers to update its race car in the current Generation-6 Era. Vickers’ teammate, Clint Bowyer, is hoping that they will have a much more competitive machine out of the box in 2015.

“It’s quite obvious that we missed the mark on this car for this year,” he said. “The best thing that I can see is the light at the end of the tunnel is a completely different animal — starting from scratch again next year with a new car and new rules and everything else.

“Hopefully, we can be a lot better to the punch line at the beginning of the year than we were and not have to play catch up all season long like we’ve been.”

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.