EFI at Daytona 500

06 March 2012

McLaren engine control unit that includes a Freescale microprocessor. (Photo: Business Wire)
McLaren engine control unit that includes a Freescale microprocessor. (Photo: Business Wire)

Freescale’s microprocessor to power McLaren’s engine control units for all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) made history on Sunday 26 February at the Daytona 500 race when, for the first time in its 64-year history, the cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series used electronic fuel injection (EFI) made possible by Freescale Semiconductor and McLaren Electronic Systems.

Freescale is providing the processors for McLaren’s engine control units (ECUs) that will be used to manage the fuel and ignition systems in the engines for all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars, replacing the carburettors that date back to the start of the sport. NASCAR and its top series teams tested the technology during the 2011 season and the cars and drivers are now ready to race.

Electronic fuel injection is about delivering the right amount of fuel at the right time into the engine under a variety of operating conditions. It was originally introduced into automobiles to improve fuel consumption and emissions, and it is destined to have the same impact on stock car racing. The racing will be as exciting as ever, but the engines will be more efficient and more readily optimised for the different ovals and road courses upon which they run.

As part of the switch to fuel injection, Freescale is designated as the ‘Official Automotive Semiconductor of NASCAR’ and McLaren is the ‘Official Engine Control Unit of NASCAR.’

"We're proud to have partnered with NASCAR and McLaren to bring about this historic change in Sprint Cup Series racing," said Henri Richard, Senior Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Freescale Semiconductor. "The Daytona 500, and every Cup race that follows, will become a symbol of the trust NASCAR has placed in Freescale and a testament to our innovation and technology leadership in motorsports and the broader automotive electronics industry."

For decades, most of the parts and equipment on NASCAR racecars were highly customised for racing but still relevant in standard automobiles. The move to fuel injection brings back an important synergy between these two vehicle types. ECUs maximise each racing team’s ability to extract the most performance and best fuel economy under all race conditions.

As part of the move to EFI, every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team will use a control system with Freescale’s advanced 32-bit Power Architecture based engine management processors at its core. These same processors power millions of today’s most energy efficient engines. The ECUs are tamper-proof, helping to ensure that only approved software may be run during a race weekend. Additionally, NASCAR will have special electronic tools at its disposal during every event to help ensure the legality of all ECUs.

“With strong encouragement and support from the auto manufacturers and the engine builders, NASCAR partnered with technology companies Freescale and McLaren to help the sport seamlessly transition to EFI,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR Vice President of competition. “NASCAR’s transition to Sunoco Green E15 in 2011, coupled with our transition to EFI, will allow our engines to operate more efficiently and make the cars on the track more like the production cars fans drive every day.”

Since 1966, McLaren has a legacy of racing success in the United States, claiming victories 43 times during its tenure in the Can-Am Challenge, 10 times at the US Grand Prix and three times at the illustrious Indianapolis 500. In addition, McLaren Electronics Systems has been a component supplier to NASCAR teams since 2005 and also provides some of the ECUs that became available last year in the McLaren MP4-12C high-performance sports car. Freescale technology has been at the heart of McLaren’s engine control and data systems racing technology since 2000, and it provides the power behind all of McLaren’s major racing programmes.

“We are thrilled to be part of the historic move to fuel injection in this most exciting of race series,” said Peter van Manen, Managing Director of McLaren Electronic Systems. “It has been a pleasure working with NASCAR, the engine manufacturers, tuners and teams throughout 2011 and we are now ready to race. We have been supplying electronics to top flight motorsport for the last 20 years, in open wheel, sports car and rally car racing, but I can honestly say that the racing doesn’t get better than this. It is great that our long-term and trusted partner, Freescale, has been with us all the way to help make it happen.”

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