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Some ways NASCAR teams cheat Another change, though not one mandated by NASCAR, is striking: the lowly alternator.
Now you, the street-car consumer, could buy an engine alternator for maybe $30 or so for your family sedan. But NASCAR race car alternators are a bit more expensive: five years ago a NASCAR alternator would run about $500. Last season Cup team alternators were being priced at $2900. This year -- the price has jumped to $6,000. Why? Because the car-of-tomorrow apparently generates so much heat under the hood that teams have been having electrical failures.
Race car electronics is big business among NASCAR engineers these days, in more ways than one -- Want legal traction control, for flat tracks like Martinsville and Phoenix? If you do it right, you can rig your car's electrical system to where it has an electrical 'kill' system in the corners, with less voltage going to the engine, to keep the car from spinning the rear wheels coming off the corners. Want to see it in action? Check the exhaust from some cars in the corners -- with those huge streaks of flame. And it's all legal.
Another trick teams are finally catching on to -- remember some of that strange black smoke coming out from under some cars last season? The smoke that TV guys thought might be tire problems?
Well, apparently some engine men have figured out a way to trick up their exhaust headers, legally, with tiny holes, which effectively add air to the exhaust gases and turn the exhaust system into something of an engine 'turbo-pump,' sucking air through the engine system faster, creating more power.
Of course, those were some of the top tricks for the 2009 Cup season. And now it's 2010..and it may take just about that long to figure out what new tricks all these team engineers have come up with for this new season. mikemulhern.net
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