NASCAR drivers who think some of their peers are getting away with “questionable practices” should feel better heading into the 2018 season.
NASCAR has taken several steps to keep teams honest, before, during, and after races. The new Hawkeye system is replacing human spotters on pit road watching for rules violations during races. Before the race, NASCAR is using a new template/laser inspection station system that NASCAR’s Managing Director of Competition and Innovation John Probst says is an evolution of the existing inspection process but utilizing new technology.
“There’s eight projectors, there’s sixteen cameras around the outside of the car, and there’s one underneath it. The projectors will project a pattern of lights and dots and lines onto the car that the cameras will then track,” said Probst tells nascar.com and reported by racer.com. “When it’s all said and done, which is about 30 seconds…it’s not a long period of time, the cameras have then been able to create what we call a point cloud.”
The inspectors will use that point cloud, basically a precise 3-D image of the car and compare it to the regulations. Probst says teams who fail the inspection won’t be allowed to get on the track. In a pretty cool video illustration posted on YouTube, Probst says his folks have been working with NASCAR teams to implement the new process, something he says wasn’t always the case before when NASCAR unveiled new rules or processes.
“I think this is a pretty big departure from that, in that, I’d say at the tail end of last year, we were working with three teams but in reality, we were working with the entire garage on the Cup side to figure out, not if we’re going to do this, but ‘hey, this is coming…and because it’s coming, what is the best way to implement this’,” said Probst.
He also said teams have taken him up on running tests on the new system with their own cars, so they know exactly what to expect and if their cars will pass.
“Any team, big or small, that wants to come down here and see where their car stands, we’ve offered that up free of charge,” Probst said. “We’ve had well over one hundred appointments in half-hour blocks that, in the last two weeks, have gone from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. without stop.”