Summarizing NASCAR's new rules for 2003 
Ford Racing
November 4
, 2002

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Rockingham, N.C. — On Friday NASCAR released a 15-page technical bulletin outlining the rules as they’ll apply to the cars that’ll compete in the 2003 season. After thumbing through the 15 pages, and speaking with several engineers and crew chiefs, the document provides almost no surprises to anyone — on any front.

The highlight of the document is the two - three pages covering the specifics of the ignition system, its installation and wiring into the car. The key word in regards to the whole ignition system is visibility. Whether it be the wiring or the newly specified, removable mounting plate that will contain the ignition electronics, the MSD boxes and supporting hardware, the ignition boxes must be visible through the car’s side windows. The wires leading to the boxes must also be visible through the side windows. Wire gauges and the routing must provide an inch of give in each wire so that NASCAR inspectors can tug each wire to assure there is nothing illegal tied into the ignition system.

The dashboard itself must have an access panel to allow NASCAR inspectors easy entry to areas under the dash to view any present wiring systems.

The ignition boxes are to be “NASCAR approved” and are subject to any testing that NASCAR might deem necessary — including any destructive tests the sanctioning body might care to do as part of their post-race testing.

Not part of the ignition specification, however, was a set of standard ignition points, which was an idea that was being floated during the September race at Richmond, Va. This will allow the teams to run their standard compliment of dual-mounted magnetic, optical or Hall effect pickups mounted in the distributor to fire the ignition system. As in previous rules specification, no crank-mounted ignition pickups will be allowed.

NASCAR is suggesting, though not mandating (as some believed might happen) that the tailpipes be routed out of the right side of the car. There are a number of reasons to move the tailpipes and exhaust assemblies, chiefly driver comfort. The pipes, which most teams run out of the left side of the car, now, throw a tremendous amount of heat up through the floorboards of a car. Another benefit to moving the tailpipes to the other side of the car is that it keeps the hot exhaust gases away from the fuel filler valve on the left side of the car. Robert Yates was extremely pleased with the recommendation. His years as a gas man showed him just how dangerous it is when fueling a car next to open tailpipes when (not if) the fuel spills during refueling.

Also included in the bulletin are a few new intake manifolds numbers, with Chevy getting two and Ford getting one.

The new Ford part number is Edelbrock 2938. The new GM part carries Edlebrock number 2862 (replacing Edlebrock 2923) and GM number 889586217 (replacing GM 12370854). Each manufacturer has only five NASCAR approved intakes from which to choose.

The locations of the “A,” “B” and “C” pillars are specified quite tightly in the bulletin, but according to the men building the cars there’s nothing new, other than closer specification of the locations and lengths.

Another non-surprise was the standard body mounting location as referenced to the vertical centerline of the rear axle housing. This is standard for all makes and brands.

All ‘03 car makes will carry a 1.5-inch maximum kickout on the nose.

All ‘03 models will run a 6.25-inch x 55-inch rear spoiler. No angle was specified in a downforce configuration, but the working number for the speedway setting is 55 degrees.

As has been the case in the past, NASCAR will allow cars up to three years old to run in the series. Spoilers on ‘01 and ‘02 Monte Carlo cars will get a half-inch increase on the nose lick, out to 4 inches from the current 3.5 inches. The ‘01 and ‘02 Dodge cars can run an extra inch of kickout on the front of the Intrepid and moves out to 2.5 inches. The Grand Prix and Ford Taurus keep their 1.5 inch on ’01 and ’02 models. These measurements all relate to the downforce models of the makes.

The rear spoilers of the ’01 and ’02 models were all reduced by a half-inch – regardless of make. Again, this pertains to the downforce configuration of the cars.

One interesting item is that all approved carbon fiber seats must have a “unique imbedded electronic transponder identifier that matches records on file with NASCAR.” The transponder will help NASCAR track the composite seats, which can be compromised in a severe wreck but display no outward indication of lost integrity.

NASCAR, via the bulletin, takes a pro-active approach to seat belts and restraint systems for ‘03. In the 2002 rule book the subject is covered in approximately 100 words, which ended stating it is the responsibility of the driver to install his belts properly. That’s all changed with the revised rule book containing two full pages of seat belt specifications installation directions.

Submission dates for newly requested hard parts (noses, tails and engines) has been moved back a month from the beginning of October to the beginning of September.

There’s enough material contained in these 15 pages to get the teams ready for the 2003 season; and the documents early release has given the teams the ability to make their cars as NASCAR friendly as possible.

Ford Racing

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