Before discussing the pace truck, let’s remember that NASCAR is using the new season to roll out its equally new, and well received, Next Gen, cars in the Cup series, which have the potential for a future hybrid powertrain baked into their basic design and layout. So it’s fitting that this coming weekend, the Cup stop at Martinsville, Virginia, one of NASCAR’s pioneer speedways, will become the first one to use a fully electric pickup as the pace truck. Brett Bodine, the official Cup pace driver, will bring the field to the green in Sunday’s Blue-Emu 400 behind an all-electric 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, for which customer deliveries are about to get underway.
If you’ve ever been to Martinsville, you already know it’s one of NASCAR’s most demanding short tracks, consisting of long, maximum-RPM straight linked by what are basically concrete-paved U-turns. Torque, therefore, is at a premium, which leaves this EV F-series ideally suited to the task: Its huge 775-lbs.ft. of torque are delivered instantaneously through the Lightning’s electric motors, with a total of 563 horsepower available on tap. It’s a reprise for Ford, whose electric Mustang Mach-E led the Cup field to the green at Talladega last year. Presumably, the pit road speed limit isn’t enforced on the pace lap.