Mirrors are essential to safety while driving, as they enable drivers to visualize spots around their vehicle that would otherwise be difficult to see. However, while they play a vital role in regular cars, you won’t find traditional mirrors on NASCAR vehicles.
While NASCAR cars might feature internal side mirrors and a rearview mirror, drivers don’t rely on them like everyday drivers. Instead, the rapidly changing conditions and exorbitant speeds demand the attention and assistance of extra help, including cameras and spotters.
Are There Mirrors On NASCAR Cars?
NASCAR cars aren’t equipped with mirrors, especially side mirrors. While some vehicles have rearview mirrors, external side mirrors aren’t fitted on these cars. The rearview mirror enables them to view what’s behind them, but the lack of side mirrors prevents them from viewing the goings-on around their vehicle.
Why Aren’t There Mirrors On NASCAR Cars?
In previous years, NASCAR rigs featured side mirrors, but in recent years, they’ve disappeared altogether from car designs. NASCAR cars don’t feature external mirrors for one key reason: safety regulations.
These cars cannot have any external mirrors, as they would place them on the wrong side of safety requirements. While some NASCAR cars have a fish-eyed mirror secured inside the side roll bar, you won’t see these rigs with side mirrors.
The fast-paced nature of the sport, combined with the closeness of the vehicles as they whiz around the track, makes attaching side mirrors a safety hazard. Relying on these mirrors during the race can present a significant hazard, as the speed of the race means conditions change every second.
NASCAR races are a far cry from a road trip with a regular vehicle, even if speed limits exceed 80 miles per hour. Road conditions aren’t changing as quickly in these conditions, as you’re driving much slower than a NASCAR driver on a race track. Because of the rapidly changing conditions, these old-fashioned side mirrors aren’t enough to rely on, especially since they could easily be knocked off by close contact with another vehicle.
Are There Side Mirrors On A NASCAR?
As mentioned, you won’t see any external side mirrors on a NASCAR car. However, these cars can feature rearview and side-view mirrors, provided they’re secured within the race car. As long as the mirrors don’t protrude from the vehicle, they don’t present a problem.
How Do NASCAR Drivers See Without Mirrors?
So, if NASCAR drivers don’t have mirrors to visualize the changing conditions around them, how do they see those around and behind them? Instead of mirrors, NASCAR drivers use cameras and spotters to aid them in their whirlwind journey around the track.
Although NASCAR cars don’t usually have mirrors, they now feature cameras. These cameras are strikingly similar to standard backup cameras on newer cars. However, instead of operating at certain times, the cameras provide a constant feed on the action around the car.
Cars are usually equipped with several cameras, with the main devices fixed to the rear bumper, the roof, and the cockpit. They utilize a 1080p wide-angle lens for the best view, streaming feedback to the driver and the camera technicians.
These cameras offer constant information regarding changing conditions in the race, including drivers around the car, track conditions, debris on the track, and more. Some drivers enjoy using them, while others prefer to rely on their spotters.
While these cameras can be helpful to the team and driver, they were originally installed as another method for televising the sport. Viewers can watch the race from the heart of the action, getting the driver’s view from the cockpit for an exciting race. In many cases, you’ll see television networks switch to these viewpoints to keep the audience interested with multiple angles, especially during crashes.
NASCAR originally began testing these cameras in 2021 with Next Gen Cup Series cars at various tracks, including Daytona. The camera was incorporated as a rear-view mirror, but instead of the reflective surface, the “mirror” featured a digital video display.
As of 2022, this Next-Gen car made its debut. Although these cars feature multiple changes, including a reworked suspension, a composite material for the body, and a front splitter featuring two steps, one of the key changes is the appearance of a rearview camera.
In addition to cameras, NASCAR drivers rely on their spotters to “view” what is happening around them. Drivers are connected to their spotters and pit crew via a 2-way radio, which enables them to easily communicate throughout the race.
While the pit crew keeps the driver posted on necessary pit stops for fuel changes and tires, the spotters keep drivers in tune with the action around them. Spotters are essentially the backseat driver, but instead of sitting in the backseat of the car as it whizzes around the track, they have a birdseye view.
They often stand at the high points on the grandstand or track to get an ideal, unobstructed view of the track. This helps them see everything happening around the track below them, allowing them to keep their driver fully informed.
The spotter is responsible for providing accurate timing and predictions, as the driver is heavily reliant on this. They might tell the driver when to overtake another driver when a spot opens on the speedway or if there’s an upcoming accident with debris on the track.
In addition, spotters guess the outcome and strategies of other drivers to aid their drivers. The combined efforts of the spotter and the driver help ensure the best results and placement.