15 July’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will literally be brighter than usual. On Thursday, reports surfaced that cars for the race will feature underglow lighting around the cars, with NASCAR confirming it later in the day.
On Thursday morning, a a Reddit user on the /r/NASCAR subreddit shared a post that featured a photo of a blue underbody light beneath a Ford. Although the thread was subsequently removed for a lack of verification and the user has since deleted their account, the image made its way to Twitter.
Bozi Tatarevic, a writer for Road & Track, eventually confirmed “from 4 separate trusted sources” that the post is legitimate. The blue light for the Blue Oval is also no coincidence, as Tatarevic added the underglow colour will vary based on the car’s manufacturer, with Fords running blue, Toyotas with red, and Chevrolets with amber.
The Sports Business Journal‘s Adam Stern and Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass tweeted about it in the afternoon, both attributing the news to Tatarevic. Stern also added NASCAR had “alerted teams about this within the last week or so“, while the underglow would only be available to drivers already guaranteed a spot in the race.
All of the following were officially realised when NASCAR made a statement later in the day.
“Cars already locked into the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will feature underglow lighting beneath their machines for the July 15 race, NASCAR confirmed Thursday,” read a NASCAR.com statement.
Underglow might evoke the image of the Fast & Furious films, but the All-Star Race will not be the first time such a kit is used on a NASCAR vehicle. In March, some spotted blue underglow during a test at Charlotte Motor Speedway; the track traditionally hosts the All-Star Race, but is unable to do so for 2020 due to COVID-19. As a result, Bristol hosts the exhibition race for the first time.
During the Nashville Champion’s Week in December 2019, Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson sported neon green underglow as they performed burnouts on Broadway. The underglow, when mixed with the visuals of burnout smoke and the illuminated night street, proved to be a hit among fans, with some on social media creating polls about their future usage and speculating on their potential during night races.
In the thread, Tatarevic provided details on how the lighting would work, explaining that LED strips would surround the fuel cell in a rectangle shape; due to their thinness, they will not affect the car’s aerodynamics. The strips are also made of plastic, so any damage to them would not pose a danger to the cars.
“One of my main concern with the lights was if they would come loose and drag behind the car but it looks like they’ve thought of that as the strips are tucked away fairly well and will be reinforced with foil tape every 4 inches,” he added.
Upon confirmation by NASCAR, it will be the second visual change for the All-Star Race. The exhibition event will also see numbers moved from their traditional location on the door closer to the rear wheel, allowing for more sponsor room at the number’s original spot. Although neither of these indicate NASCAR will implement them for future points events, it is not uncommon for the All-Star Race to have special rules that would carry over into the actual championship.
Other notable and confirmed changes include the introduction of a choose cone.