Undoubtedly fans at the Richmond International Raceway this weekend will wonder if their hearing has been affected. Pace cars might not be the loudest car on a race track, since they are road-going cars, but it'll be the almost silent whirr of an electric car that sets the pace tomorrow.
Yep, you heard right. Two 2012 Focus Electric vehicles will perform all pace car duties for the Capital City 400 presented by Virginia is for Lovers Saturday night at the Richmond International Raceway.
The cars were unveiled a couple of days ago in front of the Virginia State Capitol before being driven to the raceway.
"The arrival of the 2012 Ford Focus Electric pace car is a strong example of how the innovation cycle around green transportation is accelerating," said Lynch, NASCAR's managing director of Green Innovation, at the unveiling. "The Ford Focus Electric was held to the same highly demanding standard of any pace car, and more than met the performance requirements. Seeing it on the track at Richmond International Raceway will be another historic moment for our sport."
Ford is bragging that this marks the latest in a line of groundbreaking moments for Ford in NASCAR. In addition to being the first manufacturer to compete with a four-door sedan as its flagship model in 1998, Ford was also first to use a hybrid to start a NASCAR event when the Fusion Hybrid served as pace car for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2008.
Let's hope fans in the stands cheer on the Focus Electric pace car on Saturday night. If there are too many yellow caution flag periods for debris they might start booing. Hey, it might not be too many years before NASCAR has a race series for electric cars – now that will be something to listen to.