What Would Happen if NASCAR Tried Right Turns?

Photo: mnapoleon

With the exception of a few road course races, most of the NASCAR races are held on ovals. The cars always race counter-clockwise on the ovals, meaning the cars only turn left.

Given all the attention that learning and expertise has been getting, I’m deeply curious as to what would happen if for one race NASCAR went in the opposite direction, so that it was all right turns. I understand that they would probably have to do a lot of work to the cars, because the cars must be optimized for left turns, but put that aside. Would lap times be appreciably worse because the drivers would have trouble cornering? Would there be more crashes? Would the same drivers excel?

I think NASCAR should give it a shot. It would generate a lot of interest. I suspect, both among hardcore NASCAR fans and more casual sports fans.

I’ve even got the obvious name for the race: The Rite Aid 400.


VB in NV

Shouldn't it be the "Rite Aid 180"?

Dave

Seems to me one of the biggest problems would be that most (all?) pit areas are set up for the cars to enter with the drivers side closest to the wall. This would turn that completely upside down.

Zack

Sitting on the outside of the turn rather than the inside would probably trouble the drivers getting on their preferred lines and slow lap times (of course this is just my guess).

boomer

Demolition. Derby.

Eric M Jones

Modifications to the cars would be ridiculously expensive: E.g., the engines would have to turn the opposite way.

Yes, that's right: the torque of one of those NASCAR cars is sufficient to flip the vehicle. Every part of the design is tuned for the left-hand turn.

You might have TOOOOO much time n your hands.

Brian

This is not true, the torque cannot "flip" a car.

b

Obviously, you have never watched a race in your life. Otherwise, you would know that most of the drivers were hired from other series like Sprint cars, dirt cars, etc. Also, most of them participate Rolex 24 at Daytona road course and yes they do have the road courses every year. Lastly, they use different cars for each track so the teams would build a car that was optimized for right handed turns.

Mike

Twice a year NASCAR does road races, which ostensibly involve right and left turns.

cjc

Isn't this how Australian NASCAR works?

Mike

NASCAR does turn right every so often, since there are races at Watkins Glen, NY and at Infineon in California. Why they don't do it more often is more than anything based on their own history. NASCAR started as a single race split between Route A1A and the beaches of Daytona Beach, FL. The cars went down A1A for two miles, turned onto the beach, and came back up for two miles. The first venue to open other than the beach was the oval at Darlington, SC. Simple lap racing is their heritage.

Speed

Levitt:

This is one area where you thankfully will have to remain deeply curious. I am not even a little bit curious.

Steve

I thought one of the main reasons for the left turns was driver safety. It might not be as big of a problem now with the modern cars, but it might still come into play. Maybe part of the car redesign would put the driver on the right side a la the UK. That would change things up.
It would be interesting o see them go the other way.

Brian

I propose that half of the cars go one direction, and the other half go the other direction simultaneously. THAT would generate some interest.

Matt

Would viewers end up with neckaches from having to turn to look in the opposite direction?

L

More obscure potential name: UPS 400

Steven S.

Why don't you just turn your television upside down?

Bumba

That wouldn't do anything...

Eric M. Jones.

Watch the TV in a mirror.

jp

Huh? Yeah, I am sure casual sports fans who find a race around an oval with nothing but left turns will be thrilled at the prospect of a race consisting of nothing but right turns. It's totally different! Oh my god!

Oh wait, not , NASCAR is boring beyond belief except for perhaps the final 20 laps or so. Having the cars move clockwise, instead of counter-clockwise changes nothing about that central fact.

Mike B

I would think that while the vehicles can be reconfigured, the drivers' muscle memory would be much harder to change. It would be even worse than racing at a new track because the drivers already have the current left turn setup burned into their minds and it would be extremely uncomfortable to try it in the other direction.

Even famed German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, who has gone around the Nürburgring more times than any other person past or present, said in an interview that she has never and would never try to race around in the opposite direction as she would probably end up sliding around it "on her roof".