Since its moonshining birth, NASCAR’s transmission of choice has been the manual. The series played with patterns and the number of gears through its history, but the clutch and shifter have never left. Times change and with that, the manual will no longer be a staple on NASCAR’s ‘Next Gen’ stock cars which are set to replace the H-pattern with a bang-bang sequential unit in 2021.
Our reaction to its first test? Oo-de-lally!
Seemingly plucked from the amazing Australian V8 Supercar series, NASCAR confirmed that it had begun testing—and intended to use the sequential system—through a video it uploaded entitled “Through the Gears and Into the Future.” In the short clip, we see NASAR driver Erik Jones use the sequential system and putting it through its paces around Homestead-Miami Speedway’s oval.
The video begins with Jones leaving pit and quickly banging through the first three gears as if each was barely there. And don’t worry, the new transmission hasn’t done anything to NASCAR’s signature V8 growl. Jones then heads out onto Homestead-Miami’s oval and puts the pedal down. The clip ends shortly after and is a tantalizing taste of what’s to come in the very near future.
As discovered by Hagerty, the sequential transmission unit being employed by NASCAR in its ‘Next Gen’ stock car prototypes is likely a variation of Xtrac’s P1293 transaxle sequential transmission, which is the principal unit used in the aforementioned Australian V8 Supercar series. And while NASCAR has yet to confirm those suspicions, Xtrac’s track record and readily available units would make sense as a NASCAR supplier—Xtrac also suppliers the transmissions for Indycar, a number of TCR teams, as well as Corvette Racing’s new C8.R.
Speaking after the test, Jones reported, “I’ve never done anything other than normal H-pattern shifting in my career. You can bang right through the [sequential’s] gears; we did a restart at the end of the day and it was fun learning about that and how you can push that gearbox. That really gets you excited for the road courses and what it’s going to be capable of there.”
According to NASCAR, Jones spent two days with the prototype running around Homestead-Miami Speedway, and will get another test session in the near future. Along with Jones, both Austin Dillon and Joey Logano have also tested the ‘Next Gen’ prototype, with Dillon offering limited commentary, saying, “I really enjoyed driving the car” and not much else. Logano, who tested at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, Arizona, had far more to tell.
“When the car gets loose with this Next Gen car,” says Logano, “it doesn’t come back until the driver steers the car back—it doesn’t fix itself. And that puts it more in the driver’s hands. And I like that piece. It’s going to be challenging, but I think you’ll see more mistakes on the race track which makes, in my opinion, better racing, and more passing opportunities.”
NASCAR’s ‘Next Gen’ cars won’t see action until the 2021 season, so expect more tests, as well as the car’s full spec sheet to be gleaned sometime in the near future. But right now, what’s your take? Are you for NASCAR’s transmission swap? Is it sacrilege, heresy, or just part of a broader need to attract new fans? Let us know in the comments below.
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