NASCAR was on a big roll before the recession knocked it out of contention.
‘Ratings were through the roof, sponsors were plentiful, stands were full, and TV networks loved it more than any other race league.’
These days NASCAR is still a big force, but it doesn’t have nearly the horsepower of a few years ago.
But NASCAR has been on a slippery slope for quite awhile.
The original concept of stock car racing has been dead and buried for decades, but these days “stock car” is an even more laughable term.
Original race cars in the NASCAR circuit were tweaked-up models that were not far removed from the showroom. The cars were a genuine reflection of Detroit’s finest engineering of the time. You could drive a fairly close replica of a Lee Petty, Junior Johnson or Tim Flock race car simply by visiting your local dealership.
The rivalries between Detroit automakers were settled on the track, and it spawned a horsepower war that set the tone for the term “muscle car”.“Win on Sunday-Sell on Monday” was the mantra for the Big Three as they fought for the NASCAR title.
Eventually NASCAR started to regulate the race cars as they began to move further away from the stock models. The pressure to win meant that the track cars bore less and less resemblance to their retail cousins. These days the cars aren’t even from the same universe.
A four door front wheel drive four-banger might be the platform for a super-slick rear wheel drive two door coupe track car. Millions of dollars are spent on the race engineering of a car that was never even manufactured. How in the world does that fulfill even the most generous description of a stock car?
So now we have a track full of cars that are virtually indistinguishable from each other. No- make that totally indistinguishable from each other. Take the decals off the Kurt Busch Dodge and the Jimmy Johnson Chevy and try to pick the make of either car. It’s not going to happen.
But there is a solution: NASCAR could bring back at least a piece of the stock car concept. Base the track car on the showroom car. That would mean a return to vehicles that look like the stock versions- with or without decals. It would also mean that rear wheel drive V8 platforms would reflect the base power-plant structure of the showroom car. For example, a 350 Chev or a Mopar Hemi would be the foundation for the track car version.
The battle lines have always been drawn along make and model lines for car guys. The endless wars between the General, Mopar and the Blue Oval Boys have always been the stuff of legends. The Battle of the Big Blocks became ground zero for endless debates that rage to this very day.
‘It’s time to for NASCAR to remember its stock car roots for fun and profit.’
Jim Sutherland@ mystarcollectorcar.com
DENNIS”I lost interest in NASCAR years ago for exactly this reason.”