Whither NASCAR?

car blog

In the early years of NASCAR stock car racing, cars looked like the models you saw on the road. Except for the missing hubcaps and the numbers on the doors. The first official Strictly Stock Division race had nine makes participate, including Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Ford, Hudson, Kaiser, Lincoln, Mercury and Oldsmobile. In some instances, rental cars were actually used as race cars. Of course, no one told Hertz about it.

The picture (above) shows a photo-finish between a '59 Chevy, an Oldsmobile and a Thunderbird. If you know your old cars, you already knew this - because the cars "look" stock even if they had been tweaked by the likes of Holman-Moody or Smokey Yunick.

By the 1980s, cars no longer looked like street machines. They were rolling billboards for corporate sponsors. The multi-colored sponsor decals covered up the styling of the cars. Which was just as well because they were 'template' machines - aerodynamically-efficient, cartoon parodies of the lines of the production vehicles they were supposed to emulate.

In July 2004, Peter DeLorenzo of AutoExtremist wrote: "It's time for Detroit to finally pull the plug on their NASCAR involvement ... the reality is that NASCAR has become counterproductive to "Detroit" - and its cumulative and urgent interest in stemming the import tide, and it desperate mission to stop the erosion of market share in the North American market." A car buddy of mine stated his feelings even more forcefully: "I don't watch the NASCAR Channel; I don't see the point! Left turns only, repetitive shots of high wall banking, and unintelligible gibberish from red necked yokels who never learned the English language properly."

Dissing NASCAR is downright un-American to some but I agree with Peter. Stock car racing meant something to me in the 1950s and early '60s when the cars looked like the ones you could actually buy in an automobile showroom. (That's why it was called stock car racing.)

Today's NASCAR machines are 200-mph advertising labels which look like they've been modeled after some 29¢ misshapen polyethylene toy from a K-Mart discount bin with the requisite fake-o grille and headlight decals stuck on the front. I haven't watched NASCAR in years. Too boring. Auto manufacturers should emulate the Japanese - take the NASCAR sponsorship money and spend it on improving product quality instead.

So, what should become of NASCAR? Well, since they're so advertiser-dependent, maybe the car bodies should be shaped like the sponsor's product. Have giant Clorox bottles on wheels slicing-and-dicing with huge Tide boxes, rolling cans of Dr. Pepper, naturally-aerodynamic Summer's Eve douche squeeze-bottles and Chevas Regal flasks. Watching these products racing around ovals and occasionally smashing into each other would be fun! And who wouldn't enjoy seeing a giant bleach bottle get airborne at 200 mph? Or watching a flask of Jack Daniels stagger around after it blows a tire?!

copyright 2005-21 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


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If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.

If I have slandered any people or corporations, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal) and try to prove to me that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.