Is NASCAR Making The Spoiler Rules Up As They Go?

by John Chapman on April 14, 2010 · 6 comments

I’m about as far from a NASCAR insider as it’s possible to be. I don’t really understand how changes are made, but I will admit to being a little baffled by the way this was done. I understand the why, it’s the how that seems a little strange.

As far as I know, the story that there might be some changes with the wing, first broke in early January, just a little over a month before the season opener. Teams had been working since the season ending race at Homestead. NASCAR had the entire off season to decide on changes.It’s not like they didn’t know that the natives, or in this case, the fans were restless.

I was just wondering what effect the change, and the timing would have on the teams, particularly the smaller ones who are tight on financing.With that in mind I talked with Johnny Kaiser, Shop Foreman at Robby Gordon Motorsports…

Bump-Drafts:  How many wings does RGM own?

Kaiser: We have four on hand. You get the wing that you race, at the track. The ones we have were for testing, and set-up.

Bump-Drafts: What was the cost for the wing?

Kaiser: 4.000.

Bump-Drafts: If the change had been announced at the end of last season, would it have made any difference?

Kaiser: "Not really, the spoiler mounts in the existing holes, so it was a pretty simple change. A little bracing added and of course, new templates.

Bump-Drafts: What is the cost of the spoiler?

Kaiser: $550.

Bump-Drafts: If you could manufacture them in house what would they cost?

Kaiser: We have a Water Jet Cutter, so we could easily build them.
They would cost about $350. We probably couldn’t cut the cost in half.

Bump-Drafts: How much testing have you done with the spoiler?

Kaiser: We didn’t do the Talladega test, but we did do the Charlotte test.

Bump-Drafts: Have you had the spoiler in the wind tunnel?

Kaiser: No.

(Editor’s Note: The interview had been conducted before the Phoenix race, where Gordon finished 14th. Knowing how the race came out for him, it’s interesting to learn what Kaiser though going in).

Bump-Drafts: I’m asking this as a fan now. Now that Robby’s out of the top 35. Robby’s not known as a great qualifier. Are you doing anything different?

Kaiser: We’ve got a very good car for Phoenix. We think this is where we’ll break out.

Bump-Drafts: What’s the outlook for the rest of the season?

Kaiser:The interview We think we’ll be able to run the entire season, but it won’t be as easy as last year. It’s not easy for a number of teams this year.

Bump-Drafts: That’s great to hear. Thanks for taking time out of a busy day to talk to our readers, and good luck at Phoenix.

There should be a lot of wings laying around various shops. Maybe they need to get some of them autographed, and put them up for auction to raise some money for their favorite charities. I know one would look right at home on my garage wall.

Haas Automation, as in Stewart-Haas, has the Windshear rolling road wind tunnel. I was curious how many teams have tested spoilers in the wind tunnel. I talked to Randy Graves Customer Operations Manager at Windshear. He told me that 4-5 teams had tested with the new spoiler. With test time in 10 hour blocks, at $3,750 per hour it’s understandable that the smaller teams don’t have the budget for this type of testing.

Maybe it’s time for some of them to get together  for some kind of information sharing alliance similar to the RAD alliance with “R” for Richard Childress, “A” for Andy Petree, and “D” for Dale Earnhardt in the late ’80′s where they combined to share test information including, but not limited to Wind Tunnel testing. This was when Richard and Dale, and DEI, were on top of the charts at plate tracks, so it must have worked pretty well then. No reason
it couldn’t now.

One thing that Randy was able to confirm was that the spoiler gives the cars more drag and downforce. His observation is that it’s numbers now are a lot closer to the Nationwide car. It will be interesting to see how the spoiler works in traffic, and how long it takes drivers to adjust to the new feel.

Another question I had for Randy was had NASCAR itself booked any test time with the spoiler prior to announcing the change. The answer? No.

This article started with an e-mail exchange with Steve from Atlanta. We’ll both be watching to see how the aero issues play out with the new package.

Thanks Steve, for being my sounding board. Going back to the spoiler, if it does nothing else, will give the cars a more traditional look. That has to be a big plus. I would think that the change could have been handled a little better, but I’m on board with it.

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1 The Mad Man April 15, 2010 at 10:49 am

Great piece Dawg. I’m not surprised NA$CAR didn’t book any wind tunnel time prior to implementing the spoiler. Had they actually done some serious wind tunnel testing before they started with the wing, including running the car backwards in the wind tunnel, they might have never gone to the wing to start with. But as we found out from Helton, the whole reason for the wing had nothing to do with improving the car’s performance, it was to try to lure in the Fast and Furious wannabe’s as fans.

While I’m glad to see the spoiler back, I don’t think it’s the end-all solution to the cars going airborne when they get turned around. I think it’s going to take the solution that Ford Racing’s aerodynamic engineer came up with to keep the cars on the ground.

The next thing they need to get rid of is that cow catcher on the front of the car. It’s causing more problems than it’s worth as we’ve seen in the number of them getting torn up and also tires getting cut down.

2 Keith April 15, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Why does Nascar tell the teams what angle they have to run the spoiler. The cars are all the same and no manufacturer would have an advantage why not let the teams decide for themselves and Nascar would not have to police it.

3 Marybeth April 15, 2010 at 2:57 pm

@John, “Is NASCAR Making The Spoiler Rules Up As They Go?” Do you mean just the spoiler rules, or all of the rules…? :)

4 dawg April 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm

@ Mad Man I’ve been thinking about the Spoilers. I think the teams could after market them to landscapers, as they’ve proven to make wonderful scrapers.

@Keith I’ve wondered the same thing. NASCAR could have made them adjustable like the old ones. Then given the teams a range & let them set them anywhere within that range depending on driver preferance, etc. Anything they could let the crews do, that would make the car race better would help everyone, crews, & fans.

5 dawg April 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm

@ Marybeth Just a second, let me check my NASCAR rule book. Oh wait a minute LOL

6 Steve in Atlanta April 15, 2010 at 4:26 pm

John, Thanks for poking around and finding the answers concerning the wing vs the spoiler. When the COT was introduced everyone said a “wing”?? NA$CARS answer at that time was “we did alot of research” and the wing is the way to go. Remember, NA$CAR’s reason for the wing was to “eliminate” the “Dreaded Areo Push”. They said the air would go under the wing, onto the front of the car behind and eliminate the Areo Push. I guess that has gone out the window now. This weekend at Texas will show the true test of the spoiler and we may just hear that old term “Areo Push” being used again! I love the look of the spoiler vs the wing and enjoyed your article John, and the true test is under racing conditions with larger packs of cars. We shall see how the air, or lack there of on the cars behind the leader reacts. Thanks!

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