Right about the time you were likely standing in line to vote on November 3, 2020, the NASA National team and representatives from several tire manufacturers were at Buttonwillow Raceway Park testing the new NP01 EVO built by SEBECO Motorsport to find a new spec tire for the series.
I’ve worked at a daily newspaper on election night, and for a journalist, that’s a pretty exciting time on the job. All things considered, though, I’d rather be at the track. I was there to take photos, some of which now appear on the NASA Prototype website. I interviewed tire vendors and assisted NASA Vice President Jeremy Croiset and sales and marketing manager Aldrin Villanueva on everything from installing decals —those AiM stickers are tricky — to cleaning the cars to assisting with video production.
Once we had gathered the initial data, we had to go back to the track to do follow-up testing on January 8. There were only a couple of tire candidates left at that point, but we headed back to Buttonwillow to test tires that had been run and then sat in a garage a bit, gather more data, take more photos, shoot more video and ultimately, make a final selection for the spec tire for the new NASA Prototype. It will comfort you to know I had no input on tire selection.
A new tire was important because the new NASA Prototype, the NP01 EVO had been breathed on significantly by SEBECO Motorsport, and it’s worth pointing out what the new cars have that previous models did not — because SEBECO has taken what was already a significant achievement in racecar design and construction and made it even better.
That SEBECO has made so many improvements to the car and can sell it fully assembled for a lower price than the model it replaces is something of a minor miracle. As with so many things, the beauty of the new car lies in the details, and there are a few that merit our attention. They sure got mine.
For starters, the car has more horsepower, up from 185 at the crank to 210. SEBECO also added a new front splitter ramp, a rear diffuser and created new end plates and rear-set brackets for the rear wing, all of which doubled the downforce to nearly 1,000 pounds. The changes also warranted spring and shock changes, so you can begin to see why we tested for a new spec tire. SEBECO also improved the design of the rear suspension rocker arms and rear control arms.
The good news is that the new Hoosier NP01 racing slick is the same price — $245 — as the old spec tire. The wet-weather tire for the class is the Hoosier W2 rain tire, which runs $280 apiece.
That just leaves us with existing owners, early adopters who signed on for the dotted line for a NASA Prototype long before NP01 EVO buyers ever did. For about $6,100 plus tires, existing NP01 owners can upgrade to the new spec car and be at pace with brand new cars built at SEBECO.
All of the testing and photography and media production resulted in the rollout of the new NP01 EVO on February 4. That included full specs, a new website and videos and of course the announcement of the new tire.
When I look at the website and all the photos and think of the work that went into the rollout, it makes me feel proud to have been part of it. When I look at the new NP01 EVO, then look at the price, it makes me feel happy for those who will own one. And maybe a bit envious.