Electronic Fuel Injection

Did EFI Make NASCAR Engines More Reliable?

In 2012, NASCAR moved from carburetors to Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI). This made people like me happy because my friends who denigrated NASCAR as hopelessly outdated and behind the times have one less argument to use against me. There were many purposes for the switch to EFI: one was precisely as I note above: to be […]

NASCAR and Electric Cars: A Response to Bill Nye

Bill Nye is getting a lot of press lately by suggesting NASCAR ought to be racing electric cars.  I was rather disappointed with the reaction from NASCAR fans, as many dismissed the suggestion offhand, or offered ad hominem attacks on Nye. Firing off Twitter insults only reinforces the stereotype of NASCAR fans as […]

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Cooling Fuel: Safety or Performance Issue?

Temperatures at the Dover race were unseasonably high. Kurt Busch’s Stewart-Haas 41 team was told by NASCAR officials to remove “heat shields” from their fuel cans. The cans (shown at right) have an 11-gallon capacity. Not shown in the pictures is a tube that connects the nozzle at the top with the […]

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Engine Issues at Talladega: Vapor Lock, Gas Cans and Oil Coolers

An usual number of teams “ran out of gas” or had engine troubles during the Talladega race. The TV analysts had some ready answers for what might have caused these problems. Their extemporaneous theories tend to elicit sighs from engine builders, who know that problems can rarely be diagnosed at the track – and even more rarely by someone who hasn’t looked at the car.

A wonderful aspect of blogging is that we’re not called to have answers on the spot like the television broadcasters and we have the leisure of time. Let’s examine some of those theories.

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The Truth about Cell Phones, ECUs and Car Control

It didn’t take long after Brad Kezelowski pulled out his cellphone during the 2-hour-long Daytona red flag for the conspiracy theorists to leap into action.

The argument goes like this: Cellphones should be banned from the car because a driver could use his specially prepared cellphone to a) change the Engine Control Unit (ECU) and/or b) transmit data from the car back to his crew chief during a race. We will not address the suggestions that the driver could use the cellphone to talk secretly to the crew chief during a race because anyone who has been in a race car or worn a helmet knows that’s just plain dopey.

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Engine Maps Explained

In my last post, I detailed how the relays in the ECU system allow the system to flip to a default engine map. This lets the team keep running, even when something fails, and it decreases the chances of the ECU doing something that blows up the engine. Here’s a short explanation of what exactly an ‘engine map’ is and what it does.

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Phoenix: Relay Race?

The race at Phoenix was the first non-restrictor-plate race. A number of drivers experienced engine-related problems, leading some media outlets to start blowing the “EFI problems” horns as loudly as possible. Mark Martin, the pole sitter, was an unfortunate casualties of a “flipped circuit breaker”. One of the most interesting exchanges to me was a series of tweets and a radio interview with Mark Martin’s Crew Chief Rodney Childers (@rchilders55) in which Childers repeatedly said it not “an EFI problem”, the radio commentators persisted in saying that it was.

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