NASCAR'S Digital Dash - Innovation Or Cost Cutting Measure?

NASCAR will make the digital dashboard mandatory in all race cars in 2016 - but will they help drivers or hinder them?

Technology is great, isn't it? We have tablets to replace laptops, cell phones to replace laptops, digital cameras to replace the old 35 mm film - but a digital dashboard to replace a spotter, a crew chief and a flag man? Seems like the introduction of the digital dash is just another way for NASCAR and Brian France to cut costs in an already flailing sport. Fan attendance is down, people are not renewing their season tickets, and team owners are going behind the backs of the general public and starting their own alliances. Why? All to save a buck or two?

Let's talk about this digital dash that is mandatory this year. From the looks of the unit itself, it tells the driver almost everything they need to know. Oil pressure, water temps, RPM's and laptimes. But where is the driver going to put this GPS sized unit where it's accessible in plain sight, but doesn't fall off the windshield? I know mine does all the time. And what doesn't it tell them? According to this NASCAR.COM article, teams can customize different displays, and NASCAR is "working on" different aspects like  2 way communication between crew chiefs and the driver, as well as NASCAR officials.  Let's take a look at the pros and cons of the digital dash.

Digital Dash Pros and Cons



Screen is fully customizable

Drivers will have to pick the colors, screen size and display that works for them

Access to temps and levels similar to analog gauges

Data not yet available to crew chiefs

Cautions and penalties will eventually be added to display

Will have to rely on old technology until new changes are in affect

Will monitor tire pressures in the future

Technology needs to be implemented to be able to allow the tires to talk to the receiver built into the dash.

Real-time updates to the fans

Will be in place eventually - still working on that.

Typically when you roll out a new product, you test it, work out the bugs, find out what features users will want, and what features are of no use to them. Although NASCAR did this with only one driver, (Kurt Busch in September at Darlington), there were some drawbacks to the new display from Kurt's prospective.'

There is a slight weight difference, he said, noting that the digital display is heavier.

"So we worked a little bit harder on the surroundings of it to try and get it back to being equal."

Busch's crew chief Greg Zipadelli chimed in with his take on getting the dash fit for the car itself.

"It takes a little bit different (wiring) harness, a different dashboard," Zipadelli said. "(Kurt) was willing to run it. It allowed a group of our guys at the shop to just basically jump on it; we're just trying to be a little bit ahead for next year and get some feedback, how does it work, what does he like about it, let the other drivers see it.