Sunday, February 17, 2008

When "Stock" Realy Meant "Stock"

So, you've just watched an exciting Daytona 500 - and successfully fought the urge to beat the Fox announcing crew repeatedly with a fish* - and you want to put your money where your mouth is. Why not go down to your local Dodge dealer and pick up a Charger just like the one Ryan Newman drove to victory lane? Well, because you can't:

This year’s 500, the 50th running of the race and the season opener for the Sprint Cup series, is the first of a new era in which a single car shape will be used by all teams at all races. The generic body, not related to any “stock” model in showrooms, was designed specifically for Nascar competition.

Called the Car of Tomorrow, its phase-in began last year in a program Nascar instituted to improve safety and reduce costs, admirable goals indeed. But its arrival also signals the probable end of fan loyalty to favorite cars; the battle front will be entirely under the hood, with the V-8 racing engines becoming the main difference among them. To tell a Fusion from an Impala or a Charger from a Camry, fans will have to read the lettering on the fenders.

It wasn’t always this way.
Indeed, as the slide show accompanying that article shows, in the 1960s and 70s, Detroit regularly cranked out homologation specials.

And it extended beyond Detroit - BWM's famous M3 started off as a homologation special for the German touring car championship. In fact, in most GT and touring car series around the world, homologation rules are still in place. But we're America, so we have to do it differently.

* Really, are they always that bad? I don't generally watch NASCAR - it doesn't really yank my crank, so to speak - so I don't have a great frame of reference. Their over abundance of enthusiasm and need to explain just how important the 500 is makes ESPN's domestic soccer guys or *shudder* Derek Daly seem sedate by comparison.


Anonymous said...

I have Direct TV and we were treated to a freeview weekend of their Hot Pass. This gives a couple windows with some stats along with listening into driver/crew conversation. [Lots of potty-mouth!]

Car of tomorrow makes me want to hurl. There are a lot of auto races I don't watch because they are boring, like Indy Car and Funny car. NASCAR used to be unique, but is becoming just like everyone else.

The most eciting thing yesterday was Jr.'s gear-shift broke below the threads. It took two rounds of green-flag pits for officials to tell them they couldn't let him fix it. [groan]

They may lose me after this year. Now that Winston was forced to pull out of supporting NASCAR the "cup" has changed hands again, making it less prestigious to me. What will it be next year, the Fill-In-The-Blank Cup Series? Sheesh!

NASCAR is throwing away it's history and by doing so is throwing away it's future. The Man In Black would take retirement under these conditions. Gods rest his soul.


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jedijawa said...

Thanks for explaining that whole "car of tomorrow" thing and how it fits into context.