Reader Question: “Winnowing” – and NASCAR?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Martin asks: Given the “winnowing” of makes and models of cars, my prayers go out to NASCAR and Indycar. Thoughts?

My reply: Stock Car racing hasn’t been stock for a long time. There is a Camry (sort-of looking) body running races, but it has as much in common with a stock (production car) Camry that you or I could buy as I have in common with Superman.

Well, I am tall!

The race Camry has a V8 engine and is rear-wheel-drive, two things no Camry has. The other cars are just as guilty of marketing fraud. The Fords and Chevys are similarly vaguely-resembling production car bodies, sort of, if you look really hard, covering up a tube frame chassis that has zilch in common with the unibody production cars and with a V8 that doesn’t share a gasket with the production engines used in the cars they’re pretending to be.

It’s really brand racing more than anything else. And not even that, really, since whatever wins is nothing you can buy.

Back when it was stock car racing, guys like Richard Petty actually did drive modified production cars – with modified but still factory V8s, like the ones you could buy. That connected you – the spectator (and buyer) to the race, on a personal level. There was even a saying: Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.

Today, it’s a slick PR juggernaut as much as racing and the racing is – in my opinion – much less interesting because it’s so homogenized and corporatized.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. The old NASCAR drivers were outlaws, literally, moonshiners! They owned fast cars so they could outrun the “heroes” of the day. Since they had fast cars, they couldn’t help but race them on their days off.


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