DeLAY: Are Spec Truck Engines The Answer?

Andy DeLay Andy DeLay Blog, Staff Columns, Trucks Leave a Comment

NASCAR is exploring options for a spec motor to be implemented into the Camping World Truck Series. (NASCAR photo)

Die-hard NASCAR fans may argue about who their favorite driver is, but one thing you will hear most everyone agree with is this: the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series puts on a great show.

The series showcases the newest up and coming drivers in the sport, sprinkled with a few Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers on rare occasion. The competition is fierce, door-banging, and downright fun.

So why change a good thing?

Well, this great series is struggling.

With NASCAR’s falling TV viewership it has become increasingly difficult to land coveted marketing partners. To make things worse, the series purses are just pathetic (in my humble opinion). NASCAR stopped releasing the series winnings a few years ago, but one thing is for sure: Christopher Bell’s win at Pocono didn’t come close to paying the bills, even based on what the winnings were ($41,542 for Kyle Busch 2015) a few years ago.

If the series continues on this path, we will soon be saying goodbye to a fan-favorite series.

So how can we save the Truck Series? Reduce the costs.

After hearing about NASCAR’s consideration of using spec engines for the series, I thought I would ask around and get the reactions of some of the series drivers, owners, and crew chiefs. The reaction to the possibility of spec engine usage is nothing short of giddiness!

I was told on several occasions that the most expensive element of a chassis build is the engine. Many teams cannot afford to build their engines, so they ‘rent’ engines from large organizations like Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick
Motorsports, and Roush-Fenway Motorsports. With those engines come engineers and technicians responsible for tuning and maintaining the powerplants.

This expense, which is far less than having their own R&D program, is cost prohibitive for smaller teams working out-of-pocket. They are stuck with racing the same worn out engine for most, if not all of the season. This makes ‘Privateers’ non-competitive, and many horsepower down on the powerhouse trucks like those from Kyle Busch Motorsports and other top teams.

Spec-engines (or crate engines, to use a different term) would address that issue in a big way. Suddenly a $150,000 to $500,000 expense becomes far cheaper and teams like LCS Motorsports and driver Chris Jones are now making the same horsepower as Christopher Bell in his KBM machine. Granted, Chris Jones may not have the same
chassis under him as Bell does, but nothing beats raw horsepower and a race car that handles like a champ on the straightaways.

For the NASCAR community, all I can see are thumbs up in a big way.

The enthusiasm has been far less loud from the fans and manufacturers. I have seen reactions from lukewarm to outright sickness over the proposal.

Fans scream that this may be the last dying breath of a once great series.

Why? One reaction was that saying NASCAR wants to make the Truck Series another vanilla IROC series. Some scream that powerhouse teams should be permitted to gain an advantage over those that fail to obtain the sponsorship to fund big engine programs. Others seem to think the engine rule may kill a great series where
they perceive there is no problem.

I can understand the fan concern as NASCAR has continually tried to make changes to fix problems within the sport, some of which were not so popular with the fan base.

But I stand with the drivers, crew chiefs and team owners who have cried that the series needs to be more economically sound.

Before we lose more great teams such as Red Horse Racing, a change must be made.

In the end, owning a NASCAR team is a business. If the business makes no money, it must close its doors, just like Red Horse did.

I’m not ready to see a great series like this be scrapped because the sanctioning body could not adapt and make it possible for the teams to make a dollar and operate efficiently.

Are you?

The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, the Performance Motorsports Network, Scorpion Radio Group, their sponsors or other contributors.

 

About the Writer

Andy DeLay is a career law enforcement officer for Clearwater, Florida who carries a passion for motorsports at both the local and national levels. He is an avid iRacer who also spends time away from the virtual circuit at local tracks.

In addition, DeLay is a host of the long-time Burning Rubber Radio Show on the Performance Motorsports Network, the wireless mobile radio affiliate of Race Chaser Online, as well as an onsite reporter for PMN in various capacities.

Email Race Chaser Online: news@racechaseronline.com

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