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Electronic fuel injection debuts at NASCAR Daytona 500 Race

The McLaren engine control unit that includes a Freescale microprocessor. (Photo: Business Wire)

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) will make history on Sunday February 26 at the Daytona 500 race when, for the first time in its 64year history, the cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race across the starting line using electronic fuel injection (EFI).

Freescale Semiconductor is providing the processors for McLaren's engine control units (ECUs) that will be used to manage the fuel and ignition systems in the engines for all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars, replacing the carburettors that date back to the start of the sport. NASCAR and its teams tested the technology during the 2011 season.

Electronic fuel injection - delivering the right amount of fuel at the right time into the engine under a variety of operating conditions - was originally introduced into automobiles to improve drivability, fuel consumption and emissions. According to NASCAR, it is destined to have the same impact on stock car racing, resulting in more efficient engines and more readily optimised for the different ovals and road courses upon which they run.

As part of the switch to fuel injection, Freescale is designated as the 'Official Automotive Semiconductor of NASCAR' and McLaren is the 'Official Engine Control Unit of NASCAR'.

"We're proud to have partnered with NASCAR and McLaren to bring about this historic change in Sprint Cup Series racing," said Henri Richard, senior vice president and chief sales and marketing officer at Freescale Semiconductor. "The Daytona 500, and every cup race that follows, will become a symbol of the trust NASCAR has placed in Freescale and a testament to our innovation and technology leadership in motorsports and the broader automotive electronics industry."

For decades, most of the parts and equipment on NASCAR race cars were highly customised for racing but still relevant in standard automobiles. The move to fuel injection is designed to bring back a synergy between the two vehicle types.

As part of the move to EFI, every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team will use a control system with Freescale's advanced 32bit Power Architecture based engine management processors at its core. The ECUs are tamper proof, ensuring that only approved software may be run during a race weekend. Additionally, NASCAR will have special electronic tools at its disposal during every event to help ensure the legality of all ECUs.

"With strong encouragement and support from the auto manufacturers and the engine builders, NASCAR partnered with world leading technology companies Freescale and McLaren to help the sport seamlessly transition to EFI," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. "NASCAR's transition to Sunoco Green E15 in 2011, coupled with our transition to EFI, will allow our engines to operate more efficiently and make the cars on the track more like the production cars fans drive every day."

McLaren Electronics Systems has been a component supplier to NASCAR teams since 2005 and also provides some of the ECUs that became available last year in the McLaren MP4-12C high performance sports car. Freescale's technology provides the power behind all of McLaren's major racing programmes.

"We are thrilled to be part of the historic move to fuel injection in this most exciting of race series," said Peter van Manen, managing director of McLaren Electronic Systems. "It has been a pleasure working with NASCAR, the engine manufacturers, tuners and teams throughout 2011 and we are now ready to race. We have been supplying electronics to top flight motorsport for the last 20 years, in open wheel, sports car and rally car racing, but I can honestly say that the racing doesn't get better than this. It is great that our long-term and trusted partner, Freescale, has been with us all the way to help make it happen."

Chris Shaw

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