Would you be brave enough to push a race car to 200 mph on a track? What if you don’t have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going? NASCAR drivers who are not eligible for speedometers do just that every weekend. But some NASCAR drivers are demanding that NASCAR allow them speedometers.
Do NASCAR Cup Cars Have Speedometers?
NASCAR does not allow speedometers in Cup Cars. Drivers use the gear they are in and engine RPM to estimate their overall speed. But with the number of pitlane speeding fines on the rise, some drivers would like a speedometer.
RELATED: Is Dodge Secretly Building a NASCAR Hybrid?
NASCAR stuck with analog gauges for many more seasons than Formula 1. Since a NASCAR race car driver had a tachometer, drivers use engine RPM and knowledge of their transmission to estimate their overall speed. Drivers select the most appropriate gear for each part of the track and then push their car as fast as they can.
By 2016, NASCAR began the transition to digital scoreboards. These new units have multiple pages of data and drivers can choose what their dashboards display. NASCAR’s next-generation race car uses the McLaren PCU-500N digital dashboard.
The tachometer page continues to be the most important indicator for drivers. They also closely monitor water and oil temperatures. Keeping these two within five degrees of each other ensures that they get as much power out of their engine as possible without it overheating.
The new digital dashboard was developed with Formula 1 technology and can display a speedometer like the one Formula 1 drivers have. But NASCAR rules still prohibit speedometers.
Can a NASCAR driver get a speeding ticket?
NASCAR racetracks set a speed limit for their pit lanes. And those speed limits vary by track. If officials catch a driver speeding in the pit lane, the penalty may result in forfeiture of the race.
RELATED: Does Next-Gen NASCAR Car Still Have a Gear Shifter?
The pit lane can be a dangerous place. The teams jump over the wall to service their car and send the driver off. Each team is at a different point in their pit stop routine. Meanwhile, cars are moving by inches, sometimes at 50 miles per hour.
For this reason, NASCAR has severe penalties for drivers caught speeding in the pit lane. For years, officers watched passing drivers and timed them with stopwatches. According to the New York Times, NASCAR switched from this stopwatch system to an electronic timing system in 2005. The result has been many drivers caught exceeding the speed limit on pit road.
During the unforgettable 2009 Indy 500, Juan Pablo Montoya led 116 laps before being flagged for driving 60.06 mph on the road. The penalty pushed him back into the middle of the pack. After a similar incident that year at the Brickyard, he revealed, “It’s just really devastating when one of the races of your life slips through your fingers.”
Why do NASCAR drivers want a speedometer?
Most race car drivers would prefer to know their engine RPM versus their overall speed while racing. But NASCAR’s pit lane speed limit and stiff speeding penalties make drivers want a speedometer in the car.
During the analog gauge era, NASCAR deemed speedometers redundant and heavy and thus banned them. The first lap behind the car is traditionally completed at the speed limit in the pits. Drivers take this opportunity to note their tachometer readings in each appropriate gear. At the end of the analog era, teams even developed a colored light system that drivers could adjust for the local road speed. The lights flash yellow, then red when the driver exceeds the all-important pit lane rev limit.
But with the McLaren PCU-500N digital dashboard, this system is completely redundant. NASCAR could ask McLaren to create a speedometer page that is only displayed on pit road or automatically displayed when driving at less than 100 mph. Such a system would give drivers the same exact data that NASCAR officials use to issue speeding tickets.
When a NASCAR fan asked Reddit, “Why don’t drivers get a speedometer” in 2018, driver Chase Briscoe quipped, “It’ll make pit lane easy.”
Then find out the top speed of a NASCAR Cup Car or see how NASCAR drivers use their digital dashboard in the video below:
RELATED: Nascar tries to stop drivers from cooking like ‘turkeys’ in next-gen race car