NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports unveiled the full specs for their Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that will race the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
During an announcement in Daytona International Speedway victory lane, the livery for the Next Gen also was revealed for the June 10-11 race.
Though the car will feature functioning headlights and taillights for the world’s biggest 24-hour race, the systems and components on the Le Mans model are very similar to the Next Gen car.
In a mild surprise, the Garage 56 car specifications also will include the same naturally aspirated, cast-iron small block V8 engine as the Cup car.
GARAGE 56 VS. NEXT GEN: Click here to compare the specs between the Cup and Le Mans cars
The Garage 56 Camaro will feature a larger fuel cell (by 12 gallons), carbon brake discs and specially designed tires. The Le Mans car is 2 inches longer than a Cup car and the same width but checks in more than 500 pounds lighter (at 2,960 pounds vs. 3,485 in Cup).
The Garage 56 vehicle also will run on TotalEnergies’ Excellium Racing 100, which is made from bioethanol produced by waste from French vineyards (and is the fuel for all cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship).
“From the beginning of this project, it was important to us that the car we bring to Le Mans is a true NASCAR stock car,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France said in a statement. “While there have been some adjustments to allow the car to compete in a 24-hour endurance race, fans in Le Mans will be treated to the full NASCAR experience.”
The development has occurred over more than 3,600 miles logged at six tests — Road Atlanta, Virginia International Raceway, Goodyear Proving Grounds, Carolina Motorsports Park, Sebring International Raceway and the Daytona International Speedway road course. The car is slated next week for its first 24-hour test at Sebring.
GARAGE 56 ANSWERS, ANALYSIS: More on the NASCAR-Hendrick entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans
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Since the announcement that Hendrick and NASCAR (in collaboration with Chevrolet and Goodyear) would field the Camaro in the world’s biggest endurance race, it’d been widely speculated that the car’s powerplant would feature some components of electrification.
Since its 2012 introduction, the Garage 56 entry at Le Mans traditionally has been known for innovation and technological advancements, often featuring alternate propulsion systems powered by biofuels and hydrogen.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series (which is owned by NASCAR) introduced hybrid engines to its premier prototype category this season, and it seems probable that the technology will reach the Cup Series eventually. It was a topic during a news conference Friday with the principals for each manufacturer (Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota) in the Cup Series.
About to pull up to Le Mans in style. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/95a0KfhYno
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) February 17, 2023
“In every series, we are working on what are those steps to hybridization or are they going to do some testing in the electrification space,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance and motorsports for Chevrolet. “We have a lot to learn, as we do on the production side. In IMSA, we are running (a hybrid) in the GTP category, and in IndyCar, we have a hybrid coming next year. I think every series has a hybrid consideration, and I think there is going to be some testing in the (electric vehicle) space where we are really going to learn. And we do have to learn, not only technically, but from a market-facing and fan side.”
Said Mark Rushbrook, global director for Ford Performance Motorsports: “Electrification, it’s just when the time is right and when the technology is right. We’ve got a great formula here with Cup and Xfinity and truck and three good national series, but there’s an opportunity to look and do more and try to introduce that technology in a way that makes sense.”
During the March 2022 news conference to announce Garage 56, ACO President Pierre Fillon said NASCAR CEO Jim France pitched the Garage 56 idea around the concept of the Next Gen using a hybrid system in the future. According to SportsCar365.com, Fillon later confirmed the Camaro likely would require a hybrid powertrain.
The driver lineup for the car was unveiled three weeks ago at Daytona with 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button joining seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller.
Courtesy of NASCAR, here are recent photos of the Garage 56 car on the shop floor at Hendrick Motorsports: