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Why NASCAR Needs an Electric Series

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Electric vehicles are the future, whether you like them or not. If you take a look at current manufacturing trends, it’s obvious. It will take years (if not decades), but eventually, EVs will rule the road. And if they’ll rule the road, they will rule the track as well. 

And yet, there is only a small handful of all-electric motorsport series in the world today. None of them are based in North America. That’s a glaring void that NASCAR can and needs to fill. 

NASCAR has the chance to be ahead of the curve here. And for a sport that is trying to replace its “redneck cars go in circles” public image that’s been a staple of the sport for decades with an image that’s modern, exciting, and appealing (and has actually been doing a decent job at it) this is an extremely valuable opportunity. 

A Few Reasons Why NASCAR Needs an Electric Series

Manufacturers

Everyone and their cousin have an electric vehicle either on the lot or in development. They’re the next big thing in the auto industry. There are crossovers, sedans, sports cars, supercars, SUVs, trucks, and everything in between. They come from startups and they come from established titans. They are everywhere and they are all new. 

What phrase was NASCAR built on? That’s right, “win on Sunday, sell on Monday.” The effect may not be as present as it once was, but when you have a market as wide open and new as EVs….

Take a look at it from the manufacturers’ point of view: You could either spend millions of dollars to enter a series that would have you compete against established brands in order to sell standard vehicles, or you could join a brand new series that would allow you to market your new electric vehicle(s) to an established audience of race fans without having to play catch-up against other manufacturers who have been competing in that space for decades. 

Is it a guarantee? Nope, but the odds of anyone like Honda, Kia, Volkswagen, or any other major name entering one of NASCAR”s current national series are low. This new electric series would give manufacturers something to gain and motivation to join the sport. That’s something they don’t have right now and something NASCAR desperately needs to give them.

We can go ahead and address the elephant in the room: just think what would happen if NASCAR could land Tesla for this new series. Drawing the manufacturer support of a company with that much name recognition is huge. And Elon Musk himself? Love him or hate him, but the man commands attention. The attention that, if he ever does support this endeavor, would be incredibly valuable when it comes to the next point:

Ah yes, one of the favorite topics of discussion on NASCAR fan forums and Twitter threads everywhere: potential new manufacturers.

Fans

Take it from a young guy, one of the Gen Z fans NASCAR openly craves: if you want my generation to buy into the sport, an electric series is a great way to start. It’s not a catch-all that would turn NASCAR into the obsession of young people everywhere, but it would help bring in a new type of fan. 

Maybe it’s somebody who cares about the environment and is keen on the idea of driving electric for that reason. Maybe it’s some dude who admires the aforementioned Musk and would be willing to try out anything he promotes.  Sure, they might not all stick around, but this is getting non-NASCAR-fan eyes on a NASCAR product. That’s huge for the sport, especially in its current state.

But that’s not all NASCAR would need to do if they really want to buy into that demographic.  Do you want to know a little secret? We, Gen Z, don’t want to feel like a fan. We want to feel like a friend. We follow people we feel like we know. 

Some drivers are particularly good at this. Hailie Deegan, Chris Hacker, Cody Ware, Landon Cassill, etc, all have one thing in common: They have personality and their own ways of engaging fans. Point being, if NASCAR wants this series to be a massive hit with young people everywhere, they need to realize what exactly young people want and deliver. And combining EVs with those types of drivers would do wonders in that regard.

What Would A NASCAR Electric Series Look Like?

There are so many different directions NASCAR can go with this. Option one: NASCAR wants more Gen Z fans? Fine, go ahead and full-send it. Do something different than the current national series. Create a car that looks, feels, and drives like fun. Run them on interesting tracks (EVs are quiet enough to make street courses a possibility). And then get drivers who know what they are doing when it comes to fan engagement as mentioned earlier.

Option two: Use an existing series. Converting an existing national series with an established history and fanbase into an electric series would enrage portions of the fanbase, alienate current series regulars and race teams, and overall it would be a massive risk.

Which makes it a very NASCAR thing to do. If this conversion does occur, it would have to be either ARCA, The Truck Series, or Xfinity Series. They’re the only NASCAR series with enough of a national reach to make the risk worth the rewards.

ARCA makes the most sense as a guinea pig. The series isn’t what it once was and as a whole has fallen on tough times. It would be a shame to see such a historic series turn away from its roots, but the nature of motorsports is to adapt or die. Sometimes sacrifices must be made.

Final Thoughts

If you think this endeavor will go smoothly whenever it eventually happens, you’re flat-out crazy. But if you think NASCAR can survive on combustion engines forever, you’re also crazy.

It may take decades, but eventually, NASCAR will have to convert. Better to start the process now and be ahead of the curve instead of being the archaic holdout that can’t bear to give up on the good ole days. That could kill the sport.


Enjoy this piece? Or disagree and feel like yelling at me? Follow me on Twitter @Texiancurtis for more NASCAR content. Be sure to follow @OT_Heroics for all your sports needs and @OTH_Motorsport for more motorsports content.

Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images

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Ian is a contributor to Overtime Heroics covering NASCAR. A stream of his cold takes and random thoughts can be found on Twitter @texiancurtis