If you’re into NASCAR as much as I am, you’ll enjoy this Wall Street Journal article on the amount NASCAR teams spend on motor oil.
According to the Journal, over the past decade, Joe Gibbs Racing has spent about $1 million per year on perfecting its motor oil. Roughly 10 extra horsepower have been squeezed from JGR engines, and that gain has been attributed to the motor oil.
Motor oil is one of the few places where teams can use technological innovations without restraint in NASCAR. As a result, teams keep their motor oil formulas secret. JGR won’t even tell which company produces their motor oil.
The Journal details the process in which the oil is sent to JGR and tested, and sent back to scientists for analysis.
If you’re questioning why a team would spend that much on motor oil, you needn’t look further back than this season for an answer.
At the Shelby 427, five Toyota teams had to replace engines, including JGR’s No. 18 team with Kyle Busch. Four of the five teams used Toyota engines built by Toyota Racing Development. JGR builds its own engines.
JGR stated that the problem with Busch’s engine was not the same as the problem with the TRD engines.
At the time, TRD President Lee White said:
It’s a wear issue between the camshaft and lifter – it’s either a coating, lubrication, lack of lubrication, too much lubrication, not enough coating or a material situation or just the simple fact that we haven’t been testing.
TRD changed oil pumps in hopes of correcting the problem. They used an aggressive camshaft that uses a lighter weight oil.
Lubrication issues can cost a team a good start or finish, and it can lead to a blown motor and wrecked race car. At roughly $150,000 a pop, protecting race cars is priority number 2 behind protecting drivers.