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« NASCAR would do well to follow the proposed F1 points system | Main | Danica will not save NASCAR »

Lessons learned in NASCAR 2009: The CoT is a terrible race car

By admin | December 13, 2009

By Richard Allen

On numerous occasions I have had people send me e-mails or make comments regarding how much they despise the fact that Toyota is allowed to race in NASCAR. My response to that is, “What difference does it really make?”

After all, with the Car of Tomorrow the only real difference between the makes are the stickers applied to the front and rear of the cars to simulate the grill and the lights. Does it really matter whether the car is a Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota, Kia or a Jaguar?

Granted, there are differences in the engines, but even with that, there is only so much technology to go around with a carbureted, internal combustion engine. The bodies of the cars, however, are exactly the same so they will fit a common template, thus making it easier for the not always so competent NASCAR officials to validate each car.

And even worse than having each car look exactly alike, the sanctioning body now mandates so many parts and pieces on each vehicle that there is virtually no room for creativity and gaining a ‘competitive edge’. Shocks, springs, wing angles, camber angles, gear ratios and tire pressures are just a few of the components that teams have no control over. Each car has to be approved at the NASCAR R&D Center before it can be raced to see to it that NASCAR maintains complete control over every aspect of the sport and allows for as little team creativity as possible.

Again, NASCAR wants to control so many variables so as to make things as easy as possible for their inspectors, who might otherwise be easily fooled due to a lack of racing knowledge and experience. And, of course, there is always the factor of money. NASCAR actually sells, or leases, many of these components to teams for a price, or are compensated by the ‘official’ suppliers of certain products.

The result of all this sameness and the multitude of mandates is racing that is often times less than exciting. Due to so much conformity drivers are typically unable to pass and find themselves spending long periods of time following each other in a parade that often lasts for hundreds of miles.

To make the point of how this car lends itself to parade type racing one needs to look no further than this year’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. Juan Pablo Montoya clearly had the dominate car of the day. He lead the most laps and looked to be unbeatable. However, he was penalized for speeding on pit road which put him back in the pack. Even with a car that appeared to be the class of the field he was unable to pass and finished essentially in the spot he was penalized to. This car was made to run in a line, not to pass other cars.

NASCAR apologists will many times point to the number of cars running on the lead lap at the end of most events as a way of claiming the competitive level of the sport is higher than it ever has been. To some degree that is true. However, at the same time the question of what good is it for there to be so many cars on the lead lap if they can’t pass one another has to be asked.

The bigger issue with this machine is the fact that it has robbed the sport of one of its most endearing features, the rivalry among the brands. As was stated before, Ford vs. Chevy means nothing anymore. And, that previously mentioned creativity used to make for some interesting debates as to who was doing what to their cars to find more speed. Those debates are all but gone now. It is simply a matter of the teams with the highest budgets who can afford the most engineering which allows them to get ahead in the most minute of ranges that run in the front.

The days of an upstart group of brothers from the middle of nowhere in Georgia who suddenly showed up and beat the top teams in the sport are gone forever. A loner engineer from Wisconsin who wanted to do things his way would be left behind in today’s NASCAR.

This car along with other issues that have been addressed already or will be addressed in coming columns are robbing this once great sport of its soul. The sameness, or blandness, is driving fans away from the grandstands and their television sets in droves.

If something is not done soon, if the leaders of this sport do not wake from their collective fog, this sport as we have known it will die. Or, perhaps it has already for that matter.

If changes are not made to get NASCAR back to the sport it once was historians of the future will not have to ponder for long what went wrong as they stare at the NASCAR tombstone. For on that tombstone in place of the letters R.I.P. will be the letters C.O.T.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

12 Responses to “Lessons learned in NASCAR 2009: The CoT is a terrible race car”

  1. George Michaels Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 10:20 am

    The oft and apt analogy is the WWF and Vince McMahan. Though he is rich beyond belief as is Brian France. So what you keeping score with? Figured you needed one post. Looking loney here.

  2. David Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 11:10 am

    Amen! I worked in the sport for several years and now, I don’t care if I turn my t.v. on to watch a race! Sad indeed.

  3. The Old Guy Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Richard,

    While I still watch the races, and attend a few, the NASCAR with which I grew up is, in fact, gone.

    Yes, there is some creativity left in the engine building area, but no longer could a Robert Yates build a secret Cylinder head or DEI a super slick intake manifold. NASCAR has put itself in charge of making sure that no one gains an advantage.

    You’re right on the Button as concerns the Elliott Brothers and Alan Kulwicki. That era is forever gone.

  4. Charles Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Richard in one way you are right that the brand of car is diminshed with the COT!

    But still Nascar is a GM or Chevy brand of choice! You are only allowed to dominate with Chevy!

    If Jimmy Johnson was driving another brand Dodge, Toyota, or Ford they would not let him dominate! You would have seen rule changes !

    Now with the COT Chevy is more dominate than in the past! So the brand does matter or the fans would not e-mail you about Toyota in Nascar!

    The question should be why is it always Chevy that get to rule and have all the heroes!

    Chevy has great teams and drivers, but some more fairness in the way Nascar treates its other brand teams would be of help to the fans and teams!

    IROC was a one brand show and it did not work!

  5. Cash Money Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    Does anyone else understand what George Michaels is talking about in that first comment?

    Agree with the article. Hate the CoT. CoT is an appropriate abbreviation because it creates a need for cots.

  6. Joe in Pittsburgh Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    I also agree with the article. They might as well change the name to NASROC and be done with it.

  7. JOE Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    i HAVE ALL BUT QUIT NASCAR. I USED TO GO TO 4 OR 5 NASCAR RACES A YEAR BUT NOW I HAVE DISCOVERED SPRINT CAR RACING…….I WENT TO 12 SPRINT CAR RACES THIS YEAR. I TRAVELED TO ALL OF THEM THE LONGEST TRIP BEING OVER 800 MILES ROUND TRIP. NASCAR HAS BECOME THE NATIONAL ASSOCATION FOR SPEC CAR RACING AND THAT HAS RUNNIED IT FOR ME.

  8. dumbokie Says:
    December 14th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    At least the COT looks like a car when it is on the track. The previous twisted sister cars, nationwide included, look like they have been wreck already and fixed by a bodyman? without a frame machine. Right rear twisted up, left front twisted down, bumpers scraping the ground, or they look like road grader blades at Talladega in order to do bump drafting. The 1968 cars spun all over the track at the same speed of 189 and didn’t flip over…….wonder if it was because air was allowed to pass under the cars???? Things that make you go hmmmm.

  9. Pat Says:
    December 15th, 2009 at 1:27 am

    Does anyone remember the days when Ford would get 1/4″ more spoiler and then NASCAR would take away 3/8″ from Chevy? They changed that spoiler every Daytona and Dega race. Even after races at Michigan and a few others. Who ever got the last change in thier favor, the other make got the next. It was constant and became laughable. And, the only way to tell if it was GM or Ford was by the grill. Just like the CoT.

    The tracks mentioned here are all boring tracks not because of the car, but because of the tracks. Thesetracks are so smooth, have very long straights and gradual entrances and exits to the corners. Look at so many of the new tracks like Fontana or Vegas. Also, if the tires out last the fuel, it usually is a boring race. Indy of 2008 doesn’t count.

    Bristol night race is everbodys favorite, so why not build another one. Charlotte is a great track. but no one seems to be able to copy it. Tight corners with different banking, not progressive, and entrances that require a lot of braking lends itself to great racing. Make the fuel out last the tires and put more into the teams ability to adjust the car based on the level of communication they have with the driver.

    The CoT is number one safe and number two the more common any part of the car is, it is helping to keep the cost of racing down. For that reason alone the CoT is needed. NASCAR also needs to find ways to lessen the perception that money is all that is needed to win races.

    Some say racing isn’t a sport, thats fine by me. It is some of my favorite entertainment and change is needed right now to help it survive. Tough as that is for some of us to swallow.

  10. The Mad Man Says:
    December 15th, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I’ve been a fan since they actually raced cars that were bought off the showroom floor and have seen the changes and progression/regression that has gone on. What we’ve got right now is the closest thing to IROC there is without calling it IROC.

    The common body eliminates one things the fans identify with and that’s the brand of the cars. As to the safety of the current vehicle, after Edwards, Martin, and Newman going airborne and in Newman’s case, the roll bar collapsing bring the roof down on top of his helmet, I have to question the safety of the car.

    The way this car was hyped up, it sounded like a dream. But it was just that. HYPE! It hasn’t made racing more exciting, it hasn’t delivered true parity, it still uses a restrictor plate, it goes airborne, it’s more aero dependent that it’s predecessor which it wasn’t supposed to be, and it was supposed to be safer and save the teams money. It hasn’t lived up to the hype.

    The car is more expensive than it’s predecessor despite the commonality of body and parts because it can only be bought from one source, NASCAR, at a cost of over $200,000 a car without an engine unlike the old one which was $150,000 with engine installed. The new car has to pass the R&D inspection at a cost of $22,500 per car per certification. If the car is wrecked and has to have a new front or rear end clip installed, it has to be recertified at the cost of another $22,500. So it’s costing the teams more money not saving them money.

    And I won’t even go into the behind the scenes manipulations with the caution flag which has made the New NASCAR a close cousin to the WWE or defunct WCW.

    I was at the first Bristol race with the then new car and the race was boring. None of the usual beating and banging that was a Brsitol tradition. Folks had a hard time staying awake. Then add in the cookie cutter tracks. Bottle that coma inducing lack of excitement and you could cure insomnia forever.

    Hopefully, once the Mayfield case is over and Brain Farce is forced to resign, we might have a return to something that resembles racing. Until then, plan on a lot of Sunday afternoon naps.

  11. DonBetke Says:
    December 15th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    For all the years of testing and brief peeks, this car truly is nothing but HYPE. I go to one of those cookie cutter tracks every year. not because Ive ever seen a good race there (not until the Trucks ran there this year) and Ive never seen a Nascar Cup race as good as the worst IRL race there. The trucks are legislated to all get out by Nascar, but yet they seem to put on a good race, side by side 3 wide passing……The term IROC was used in a few earlier comments, in the beginning IROC was not just 4 oval races a year, but road courses as well. The idea of marketing the drivers first and the cars second will haunt racing..not just the Daytona Beach mafia, but they seem ti go overboard in controlling it all.

  12. JReilly Says:
    December 22nd, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I agree 100% . The COT has destroyed NASCAR as we once knew it. It is boring racing for the most part. I use my DVR and fast forward almost the entire race till I get to the last 25 laps. If Nascar is going to continue with the COT they should really consider shortening the races to about 100 laps. Anymore than that and most of us are probably falling asleep. Great job NASCAR in ruining an American Tradition.

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