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.Indeed, as the slide show accompanying that article shows, in the 1960s and 70s, Detroit regularly cranked out homologation specials.
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.
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.