SPEED Quotes: Reaction to Dodge’s Exit from NASCAR

Dodge announced today its exit from NASCAR at the conclusion of the 2012 season. SPEED will update this story on tonight’s NASCAR Race Hub at 6 p.m. ET, including an interview with Ralph Gilles, President and CEO, Street and Racing Technology (SRT) Brand and Motorsports.

In the meantime, SPEED on-air personalities offer their perspective below on the news and its impact on the sport and its fans:

“In the ‘Age of the COT,’ the NASCAR role played by Detroit's ‘Big Three’ is nothing like it was in the days when King Richard's Mopar reigned over stock car racing, and the actual impact on the competition – the only two Dodges on the grid transforming into Fords – will be minimal. But symbolically this is a very big deal; it comes at a very bad time; and it's a kick in the gut to loyal Dodge fans."
–Dave Despain, host of Wind Tunnel

“A broad manufacturer base is essential for keeping the sport healthy. It is always sad to see any major backer of the sport leave because of the direct impact on race teams, jobs and fans. Fortunately, this leaves NASCAR with three very strong manufacturer partners. However, back to the Richard Petty days, a lot of people historically have been Dodge fans, and this will leave a hole in their hearts, and will be a blow to several teams that were hoping for Dodge’s support. Any manufacturer brings technology and support dollars that help strengthen their teams, and absent Dodge, we might have had fewer viable teams in the sport than we have right now."
–Mike Joy, NASCAR on FOX & SPEED play-by-play announcer and collector car enthusiast

“Dodge leaving is a big deal because it was a big deal when they came back. NASCAR years ago had Ford, Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and so forth, but had gotten down to Ford and Chevy. So, when Dodge came back, having a return to ‘The Big Three’ was huge. Therefore, for Dodge to leave now is significant. Sponsorship is down on a lot of cars. Teams running in the back and middle of the field are struggling to find finances and manufacturer support, so with only three manufacturers next year and those three probably entrenched with their current teams, Dodge leaving widens the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ When it comes to the fans, there still is a group loyal to particular manufacturers, although that is a small segment. However, whether you’re a Ford, Chevy or Toyota fan, you look at this and figure that if Dodge can pull out, so can any of the remaining three, so this impacts the perception of the sport."
–Kyle Petty, SPEED analyst and former NASCAR driver

“This is pretty huge. This isn’t years ago when NASCAR had several different manufacturers and if one had pulled out, it wouldn’t have been so noticeable. But in 2012, we only have four, and with one less, this news doesn’t make the right statement about the sport. Anytime a major sponsor of any kind, whether a manufacturer, primary team sponsor or series sponsor packs up and goes home, it doesn’t look good for NASCAR. I don’t think the particular manufacturer’s departure will have much of an impact on the fan base, though, because this isn’t like back in my day when you’d look up in the grandstands and see a Ford hat, a Chevy jacket or a Dodge t-shirt. Back then, a Ford fan didn’t necessarily care who won as long as it was a Ford. We shouldn’t lose fans because of this, whereas 15 or 20 years ago if one of the big ones had left, their fans would have left alongside them."
–Larry McReynolds, SPEED analyst

“The significance of Dodge’s exit is largely symbolic. Dodge has been the fourth dog in the race for a number of years now. It has had the smallest presence and the fewest number of teams. So, in terms of actual impact, it’s not that important, but it’s very symbolic when a manufacturer pulls out because it sends a bad message to fans, sponsors and media. The symbolic impact of this is more significant than the actual impact. When it comes to Dodge’s showroom floor, there could be some decline in Charger sales, but that is not the model they really will be pushing with racing. They will be pushing the Dodge Dart and the Viper and SRT Viper."
–Tom Jensen, SPEED.com Editor-in-Chief

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