The final Bathurst 1000 for the outgoing generation of V8 Supercars is approaching. While I am often content with silhouette cars, modified production cars still carry a certain luster that has become rare in major American racing. Given NASCAR's propensity for selling out brand loyalists in the name of parity, it would be fair to label Sprint Cup as V8 Supercars' evil twin. The prospect of twins separated by half a planet raises the question: which one is faster?
A performance baseline for the V8 Supercars is needed. In 1998, pole speed for the FAI 1000 (there was a split between V8 Supercar and the Bathurst organizers in the 90's) was 2:09.8945; that is 2.2305 seconds slower than the 2011 pole time of 2:07.664. 1998 is significant because NASCAR (unrelated to AUSCAR) was involved in sanctioning races in Australia and stock cars raced at Mount Panorama (as an undercard to the Bathurst 1000) in 1998.
Legend and Wikipedia claim that the record lap time for a stock car at Mount Panorama is 2:18.1027. I can find no data to the specifications of these cars. Maybe they were built to Sprint Cup specs of 1998, and maybe not. Australians only had a passing interest in watching left-hand-drive silhouettes of passenger cars never offered for sale in their country; therefore, these cars were probably built on the cheap.
V8 Supercars don't appear to have developed much in the last 14 years based on how little change there was in speeds from 1998 and today. Sprint Cup cars on the other hand have become much faster (despite the Car of Tomorrow). The 2012 pole time at Watkins Glen was almost 4 seconds faster than 1998. Watkins Glen is acceptable as an analogue for Mount Panorama as they are both high speed road courses, but 4 seconds at Watkins Glen should translate to an even greater improvement at Mount Panorama.
In 1998, V8 Supercar had a power-to-weight advantage of 4.6 pounds per horsepower compared to 4.86 pounds per horsepower in the stock car. Today, the V8 Supercar has the same power-to-weight ratio, but a Sprint Cup Car has 3.78 pounds per horsepower. As far as handling goes, these cars were never very different to start with. Both still use live rear axles (though the V8 Supercar has a four-link suspension with a Watt's linkage compared to the Cup Car's two-link suspension with a Panhard bar). The V8 Supercar still uses safety glass in the windows rather than Lexan, indicating it may be top-heavy.
Now may be the last chance for competitive bench racing. V8 Supercar's "Car of the Future" (not the most original name) will introduce independent rear suspension and plastic windows. I don't know with any certainty that Cup Cars are 10 seconds faster just because 14 years have passed, but I think it would make for a much more competitive race than 1998 could have offered.
Suddenly I wonder which would be faster at Texas Motor Speedway.
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