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DATE News (chronologically)
03/02/07
nascar
Can't call them 'stock' cars anymore
Now that the Car of Tomorrow no longer can be called that, there is a terminology conundrum in covering NASCAR. What do you call these things? What can you call these taller (by 2 inches), wider (by 4 inches), boxier vehicles with their adjustable air “splitters” in front and their adjustable rear wings?

In sports-car racing, such cars have long been called prototypes. But that would be a blatant admission by the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing of the decades-old truth: that its race cars no longer are in the same technological universe with “stock cars.”

NASCAR has begun its preferred spin cycle for the new design, of course.  

“We would prefer that the car, once it races (March 25), be called Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota (or) Ford,” Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s vice president of corporate communications, said during the two-day testing marathon that Thursday’s rain mercifully ended.

Of course NASCAR would prefer that. So would the car manufacturers who will rent advertising space on NASCAR’s uniformly designed rolling billboards.

But is it accurate? The carmakers will stick on logos such as the blue oval of Ford and the “red bow tie” of Chevrolet. But NASCAR developed, and owns, the entire car design.

So I couldn’t resist:

“Would you frown,” I asked Hunter, “on the term ‘kit car?’”  “Yes,” he said, not frowning but not smiling either.

Nextel Cup director John Darby was more pragmatic when he said, “When those cars clear inspection we put a sticker on them that says, ‘NASCAR race car.’”

And that’s as fair a description as there is for the new design.  NASCAR cars have not, of course, been remotely “stock” for decades. But the new cars eliminate even manufacturer input into the bodies.  More at ThatsRacin.com

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