NASCAR: K&N Pro Series unveils new car for 2015

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Young drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series will have the opportunity to race a brand-new car starting next season.

The body, developed in partnership with Five Star Race Car Bodies, is made up of a composite laminate blend and has a modular design so teams can make easy installations and repairs to damaged panels.

It is expected to cut labor costs associated with body maintenance by 50 percent, and it will eventually serve as the only body approved for competition in the series by 2017 (steel bodies will be phased out following next season and the current one-piece composite body will be phased out following the 2016 season).

“The new K&N Pro Series body represents a major win for the teams, the fans, and the racing industry as a whole,” NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Jim Cassidy said in a release following the car’s unveiling at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.

“This will give our emerging talent the opportunity to gain more valuable, relevant racing experience, and our fans and industry partners will appreciate the car’s similarity in appearance to both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars and street models.”

The new body is 35 pounds lighter than the current steel bodies, but probably the biggest benefit to teams will be that aforementioned modular, bolt-together flange design. Instead of having to cut and weld new panels in the event of damage, teams can now simply bolt a new panel on.

“The way it bolts together, cars will be much friendlier to repair, either in tact or by reattaching panels,” Turner Motorsports K&N East director Mike Greci told the NASCAR Wire Service.

“The way the flanges work, they either butt up at a seam or overlap a seam. But there are no exposed bolts. Everything is inside.”

As for its performance, NASCAR Touring Series managing director Brad Moran said that he wasn’t sure if the new car would prove faster than the current one based on initial wind tunnel tests. However, he feels the more Cup-like look will be a hit.

“By elevating the quality of the car with a look that’s more up-to-date – more what you see on the street and with a look that’s almost identical to the Sprint Cup body that fans see racing on Sundays – I think it elevates the entire series,” he said.

The same Five Star composite body that will be used in K&N competition will also be available for ARCA teams starting next season. However, in ARCA, the body will be used exclusively for races on tracks one mile or smaller in length.

For more details on the new K&N car, check out this handy info-graphic.

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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