Jul 25, 2005
Remember Stock Car Racing?By JR Nerad
Okay, first a disclaimer -- I'm old. Maybe not crotchety old, maybe not I've-seen-it-and-done-it-all old, but I am old enough to remember when they ran on the sand at Daytona, so I'm obviously old enough to remember when NASCAR racing was "stock car racing." I'm old enough to remember when the race cars actually looked different from one another and when they had more than a tenuous connection with cars you could actually buy in your local showroom.
What prompts this trip down memory lane? It was the announcement by Ford Motor Company that, as of next year, the new Ford Fusion model will replace the current Ford Taurus model as its NASCAR race car. We, of course, know why Ford made the announcement -- if they didn't tell us the 2006 racecar is a new model, we'd probably never realize it. Because when it begins to do battle in next season's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway, we bet it won't look much different from the Taurus it replaces, which, in turn, doesn't look much different from the Chevrolet and Dodge models that the "Tauruses" currently compete with.
The much overworked phrase used to say, "Win on Sunday; sell on Monday." But if NASCAR fans now want to buy the model they saw take a recent checkered flag, they will be hard-pressed to tell what it is. First, NASCAR cars look more like each other than anything you can buy in a new-car dealer's showroom. Second, even the NASCAR Web site, which is chockfull of all kinds of information, including data about the crew chiefs, families with NASCAR histories and even car care tips, is remarkably mum when it comes to listing the actual models being raced. Oh, you can quickly discover that Ford, Dodge and Chevrolet are the brands that populate NASCAR starting fields, but you'll have to search hard to discover what individual models are represented on the tracks. Of course, when it comes to the mechanical relationship between the cars on the tracks and the cars in the showroom...well, you just don't even want to go there.
So all we can say is, "Welcome, Ford Fusion, and good-bye, Ford Taurus." We guess the good news is we don't have to watch V-6-powered front-drive cars pushing their way around the nation's race tracks.
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