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
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
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
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.
The author can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org
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