One thing will be missing from the Martinsville Speedway this weekend: pace car noise. The new Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck will pace the 2022 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 on Sunday April 9.
Last year a Mustang Mach-E paced the field at Talladega Superspeedway. It was not the first EV to pace a NASCAR race. In 2012 a Focus Electric paced the Capital City 400 in Richmond Virginia.
The F-150 Lightning Pace Truck packs a punch
The F-150 Lightning isn’t the first truck, or even the first electric vehicle, to pace a NASCAR race. But for many this will be their first glimpse of the Lightning in action. The trucks are due to be delivered later this spring and are one of the most anticipated new trucks to hit the market. Nearly 200,000 people have reserved an F-150 Lightning, Ford says.
The F-150 Lightning should have no trouble keeping up with the NASCAR stock cars. The Lightning has 563 hp and a 0-60 time of about 4.5 seconds, according to Ford.
How fast is a NASCAR pace car?
Pace cars come out when something is amiss during a NASCAR race. Wrecks, bad weather, and debris on the track can necessitate a pace car. Drivers line up in order behind the pace car before rolling restarts.
Different tracks have different pace car speeds. NASCAR mandates the speed and short half-mile tracks like Knoxville are much slower for the pace car than superspeedways like Daytona International Speedway. At Knoxville, a pace car will slow the field to an even 30 mph. At Daytona, the pace car is expected to cruise at 70 mph. At this weekend’s race at Martinsville, the F-150 Lightning will be expected to keep the field at just 35 mph.
A Chevy Silverado was the first NASCAR Pace Truck
The open seat IndyCar series has featured pace trucks for decades. But in 2018, Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove the first NASCAR Pace Truck when Chevy brought a 2019 Silverado to the Daytona 500. That truck was basically a stock Chevy Silverado, but it with lights and the big 6.2 liter V8.
At Daytona Earnhardt Jr. had to keep the field at 70 mph, but at the super speedway he had to contend with the g-forces of the 30-degree banking that is designed to keep the race cars on track at 200 mph. Dale Jr. won the Daytona 500 in 2004 and in 2014, as well as two summer races at the superspeedway.
A Mach-E paced Talladega in 2021
Ford earned a lot of friendly press in 2021 when it took a Mustang Mach-E to Talladega to pace the Geico 500. During the race, there were seven cautions that lasted 34 laps where the Mach-E came out.