NASCAR’s Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which officially debuts in 2022, is a collaboration of the brightest engineering minds in racing. With technology at the forefront, Richard Childress Racing has played a unique and critical role in helping to bring this new on-track identity to life, working closely with OEMs, other teams and NASCAR to build the initial prototype.
“RCR has been working very hard behind the scenes to help introduce the Next Gen to our sport,” said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “We built the protype in collaboration with Chevrolet and NASCAR, and both Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick have tested the car. It’s great to see all of the hard work, research and effort come together. We’re one step closer to seeing the Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on the track, and I think fans and competitors alike are really going to be impressed with the racing this car produces, along with the speed, precision and technology.”
The Next Gen car honors stock car racing’s roots with bodies that resemble their street versions while incorporating new vehicle technology and innovation. The Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car’s new lower greenhouse, shortened deck lid and widened track width contribute to a coupe-like appearance. A fully symmetrical body design makes the race car look even more like the production Camaro.
Perhaps most importantly, the new platform implements technologies that are more relevant to street cars, as well as technology that will bring fans closer to the sport than ever before, such as independent rear suspension, rack and pinion steering and larger brakes. A new transaxle combines the transmission and rear gears into one package.
Other changes to the 2022 Next Gen race car include:
- An increase in wheel size from 15 to 18 inches. The larger diameter wheels allow for larger brakes for improved track performance. Wheels will be made from forged aluminum, like the wheels on the production Camaro ZL1.
- The bottom of the car will be sealed with an underwing and rear diffuser for enhanced aerodynamics.
- A redesigned chassis features new front and rear bumpers with an energy-management system.
- Both the front and rear clips bolt on to the center section for easier serviceability and damage repair.
The changes in the new race car are significant, but purposefully designed to increase competition and create exciting racing for fans. Austin Dillon was the first driver to make laps in the Next Gen Chevrolet during a private test at Richmond Raceway in 2019.
“RCR has put in a ton of work getting the NextGen car ready for its on-track debut,” said Dillon. “We put a team of guys together at RCR to work on the car, and we were able to build the first prototype, and do it in a short timeframe. There’s a lot of engineering in the NextGen car. It drives a lot different. It reminds me of an asphalt super late model. It turns differently so you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations with the car to get to know the feel of it. I think a lot of guys are going to love it, and I’m excited to start racing in it next year. I had a blast driving it.”
Dillon’s teammate, Tyler Reddick, had the opportunity to participate in a NextGen test at Darlington Raceway in 2021.
“I am really excited with what the sport has developed,” said Reddick. “The car is a challenge and it is going to test the limits of the current drivers in the Cup Series. Darlington will be even more challenging than it has been in years past, which is great. I think it’s important tracks like Darlington become more and more challenging every time we race at them. I think being in the Next Gen cars in 2022 and the challenges that’ll give the drivers and teams will make for a really good show for the fans.”
The Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car will make its points-paying debut in the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2022.