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When NASCAR storms into Kansas City, Ka., on Sunday May 15, there will be a lot of us wondering how those cars go so fast. NASCAR cars only kind of look like the cars we can buy in a showroom. We know they’re purpose-built machines for speed. This video explains how a NASCAR works to generate big speed.

Many of us watch NASCAR races for the sound. We watch for the aerodynamic tricks engineers pull. We look for drivers doing all they can to get an edge at 180 miles per hour. But underneath that bodywork, not many of us are not sure how the cars actually work.

This video from Animagraffs shows exactly how a NASCAR Cup Car works

This video explains the complex stuff in a NASCAR race car, like the complicated brake cooling ducts and the sequential transmission. It also shows that drivers sit in the middle, and what instrumentation they have. NASCAR crashes can also be deadly, and the video shows how the advanced safety systems in the cars work to save drivers’ lives.

Somehow, Jacob O’Neil learned everything about the cars and with his animation skills put together a video that takes the cars apart in front of your eyes. His videos focus on race cars, like Formula 1 cars, as well as fire trucks and even water systems.

For 2022 the cars were significantly updated for the first time since 2013. The video explains why, and what the new stuff on the car does to make it faster, handle better, and be safer than any previous generation NASCAR race cars.

What is the Next Gen car?

A screen capture from an Animagraffs video | YouTube

NASCAR racers were primitive until just a few years ago. Today’s 7th generation or Next Gen car isn’t necessarily the fastest, but it is the most advanced stock car. The car was supposed to debut in 2021, but the pandemic stopped that. Instead, teams waited a year before racing the Next Gen cars.

The new cars also look a lot more like the cars you and I can buy than the 6th generation. The Camaro ZL1, Ford Mustang and Toyota Camry TRD cars all have decals and body shapes that, with a squint, look like something we’d see on the street.

The big news was that the cars all use the same steel space frame. Shockingly, for the ultra-traditionalist world of NASCAR, the new cars have independent rear suspension and wheels with one lug nut. Instead of mirrors, the cars have cameras in the back, and a new sequential manual gearbox.

What is NASCAR?

The orange #17 Roush Performance Ford Mustang NASCAR racer at the 2021 Cup Series Southern Cook Out 500
#17 Roush Performance Ford Mustang NASCAR racer run by a division of Roush Industries | Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

NASCAR is shorthand for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. Of course, the cars have never really been “stock,” but that was the original idea. NASCAR cars race in several classes, but the one we see most often on TV is the NASCAR Cup Series.

NASCAR began racing in 1949 on dirt tracks throughout the south. Since then the tracks have been paved (except for one), and TV coverage has grown. But the core races are still about the same: 200- to 500-mile races on ovals where drivers mainly turn left. There are a few road course races in the series.

The next race will be Sunday, May 14, at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.


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