Drivers, start your engine? NASCAR shows off electric racecar

Electric racing vehicle

CHICAGO — NASCAR is taking racing into the future.

The first electric racecar zoomed into Chicago on Saturday, but instead of the roar of the motor when the grand marshal says “drivers, start your engines,” it purrs, or rather hums, The Associated Press reported. The debut was part of the Chicago Street Race Weekend, NASCAR said.

NASCAR worked with Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota and ABB to develop the racecar and to see if fans would be interested in swapping out a traditional fuel-powered vehicle with a green one.

The car wasn’t cheap, coming in at $1.5 million and it is only a prototype, driven by David Ragan.

He said that driving the car was different. He could hear the squealing tires and smell the brakes, but the smell and heat of a roaring engine weren’t there. After driving it for hundreds of laps, Ragan said his ears were not ringing like they normally do.

It is also not a sports car, it’s a crossover utility vehicle with a wing on the back to make it as aerodynamic as a racecar.

The car’s body is made from a flax-based composite, Car and Driver reported. It is installed on a modified NASCAR chassis with traditional racing steering, suspension, brakes and wheels.

It also accelerates faster than a gas-powered car and can stop almost immediately. It has a tri-motor powertrain that sends 1341 horsepower to all the wheels. One motor is in the front, and the other two are in the rear of the car, according to Car and Driver.

The car is also a bit slower than regular cars because it is heavy and takes corners at a lower speed, the AP reported

Ragan said he wasn’t pushing it during a trial at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, and he believes the one-of-a-kind vehicle can go faster.

Despite showing off the new car, NASCAR has not said if or when it could introduce electric vehicles into racing, Car and Driver reported.

It has, however, said that it wants to reduce the organization’s carbon footprint.

“While NASCAR is committed to the historic role of the combustion engine in racing, it is also committed to decarbonizing its operations and reducing its own carbon footprint to zero across its core operations by 2035 through electrification and innovative solutions,” NASCAR said in a news release.

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