Jamie Whincup drives the #88 Team Vodafone Holden during practice for the Bathurst 1000, which is round 10 of the V8 Supercars Championship Series at Mount Panorama on Oct. 8, 2011 in Bathurst, Australia.

Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

The Making of a V8 Supercar

Starting in 1995, it was decided that V8 Supercar racing would be restricted to two models of car, the Holden Commodore and the Ford Falcon, both of them Australian-built models. But these aren't the out-of-factory models. They're customized for racing. However, there are very strict rules for how the cars can be customized. The intent behind these rules is simple. V8 Supercar racing is meant to be affordable, so that drivers and their sponsors don't have to spend millions of dollars on custom-designed state-of-the-art race cars. And V8 Supercar racing emphasizes the drivers, not the cars, so the cars need to be as standardized as possible to keep the playing field level. It's how the car is driven that counts, not how it's built.

In 2003, Project Blueprint was introduced to V8 Supercar racing. Project Blueprint lay down certain rules that were intended to keep the races as close as possible, so that the cars would have roughly the same racing capabilities. Here are some of the key restrictions imposed by Project Blueprint:

  • The Body: In the racing world, it is common to build the body of a car based on space-frame construction, in which a series of struts are laid out in a geometric pattern based on triangular shapes. This keeps the bodies of the cars rigid but light. (Space-frame construction is used in buildings as well as in vehicles.) Space-frame construction is not typically used in production models, however, and is not allowed in V8 Supercars, which are based on standard Commodore and Falcon bodyshells.
  • Engine: V8 Supercars must have a front engine with rear-wheel drive. It should be a Ford or Chevy 5-liter engine capable of producing between 620 and 650 horsepower and with a compression ratio of 10 to 1.
  • Aerodynamics: The aerodynamics packages used on V8 Supercars must all be similar, using the same types of spoilers, air dam on the front and side skirts.
  • Brakes: Brakes are steel brakes as opposed to carbon brakes.
  • Suspension: The front suspension uses a double-wishbone design while the rear is a solid axle suspension.
  • Tires: Driving teams are allowed a set number of tires for each race, with one set allowed to be of a softer construction than the Dunlop control tire used as a standard for the vehicles.
  • Price: So how much can the V8 Supercar teams spend on their vehicles? Exact figures are not available, but are estimated at around $600,000 per car, with $130,000 going to the engine. V8 Supercar teams use two cars and keeping these cars in running order for an entire championship season can cost as much as $10 million. So while V8 Supercar racing may be more affordable than some other forms of racing, it's still pricey.