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Don’t get too excited about those NASCAR changes just yet: PART I- The CoT

By admin | January 25, 2010

By Richard Allen

In recent days the suddenly new and improved, fan-friendly NASCAR has announced that they are replacing the rear wing of the Car of Tomorrow with a blade spoiler, they are doing away with the no bump-drafting rule on restrictor plate tracks and they are going to let the drivers show some personality.

These changes come along with the previously announced plans to fix the start times of races at an earlier and more consistent hour.

While these changes are noteworthy for an organization not known for admitting its mistakes, there is still much to be done.

No doubt, NASCAR has heard the many complaints of drivers, teams, fans and media but as the saying goes, “it’s money that talks the loudest”. Complaints by the previously mentioned stake holders to NASCAR are as old as the sport itself. However, no changes seemed forthcoming until seats turned up empty and sponsors began jumping ship.

That said, at least there is some progress being made. NASCAR has finally realized they have to pay attention to something other than their own press clippings. However, the changes made so far are largely superficial and do not address the real issues in the sport.

NASCAR is not truly changing anything until significant adjustments are made to the Car of Tomorrow. By that I mean the car must show brand identity. No matter what make a car happens to be NASCAR wants them to all look exactly alike because it makes the pre-race and post-race technical inspection easier for not always qualified officials.

By removing brand identity, however, NASCAR removed one of the great fan rooting interests in the sport. Now, Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge vs. Toyota means very little in the grand scheme of things. If NASCAR wants old time fans back they are going to allow the cars to show differences of makes and have them look more like the cars in fan’s garages, no matter how much extra work it causes tech inspectors.

And more, along with allowing brand identity NASCAR is going to have to get out of the parts distribution business. The sanctioning body’s job should be to lay down a basic set of rules and then enforce those rules. Instead, NASCAR has decided to actually hand out many of the parts that go on the car as well as force teams to bring cars to their R & D center for certification. This adds needless expense to the teams and takes away opportunities for ingenuity. The only real purposes of NASCAR’s parts business and R & D center is to line NASCAR’s pockets.

NASCAR’s decision to start handing out so many parts and to dictate to the smallest degree those they do not hand out has to be related to the fact that a few years ago certain teams who the sport needed to run well continually showed up with poor setups and often crashed or finished in the back of the pack as a result. So, NASCAR decided to set the cars up for everyone under the guise of safety, cost reduction and more control of cheating. Shocks, springs, tire pressures, wing angles and camber angles are now decided for teams instead of letting them decide for themselves. The end result was to create a series in which passing is almost nonexistent because everyone is driving the same car.

As I have said before, if NASCAR does not get away from some of the poor decisions they have made over the past few years the sport will wither away to a meaningless sidebar activity in the sporting world’s landscape. And on the NASCAR tombstone will be the letters C.O.T replacing R.I.P.

In my next piece in the ‘Don’t get too excited about NASCAR’s changes’ series will be my take on the Chase for the Championship.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

16 Responses to “Don’t get too excited about those NASCAR changes just yet: PART I- The CoT”

  1. Mrs. Goodman Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 5:34 am

    The last thing anyone connected with NASCAR has to worry about is people getting “too excited.”

    Talk about wishful thinking……

    NASCAR is dead.

  2. Erich Sturgill Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 5:50 am

    Keep preaching! You’re dead on with the significance of NASCAR handing out parts to the teams in the inspection line. I think this practice gives even further advantage to teams like Hendrick that can afford to spend the money to find speed out of the few things teams are allowed to touch.

  3. HildaBeachfront Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Rich, very good article !!!!

    All we have to do is look at WHO is running nascrap…

    there is your answer to why things aren’t right. I don’t see no change either….,really.

    Greedy,greedy people do things that ruin everything…

    I wonder..does he think we have an idea that he’s greedy, stupid plus a lot of other things…???

    It will be nascrap until somebody who really cares about racing takes over….I wonder if we will ever have a nascar again…???

  4. Bill B Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 8:06 am

    I agree with everything you said but I will point out one positive thing about the current situation….
    Has anyone missed the constant whining from each manufacturer about the other manufacturers having an advantage? I sure haven’t. Remember when every month you would see notes on Jayski about this manufacturer getting an inch added here or taken away there? That is the only benefit to the current car but what does it matter if the racing sucks.

  5. Josie Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Hmmm…food for thought. I had not considered where the money was going when NASCAR started mandating parts..I was sad when they went to the COT (love the new safety features though) and Manufacturer recognition went by the wayside. Maybe I am old school..but I have always gotten a “kick” out of driving a car from the same Manufacturer as my driver (Stewart). When Gibbs went to Toyota it was a punch in the gut…but alas SHR is back in Chevys so all is good. I still think alot of fans like to have a connection with their driver by owning the same brand car…it’s just harder to “identify” on the track. I guess NASCAR has thrown the fans a few “bones” with their changes..but one has to wonder .. was in done in “good faith” or to “distract” the fans from what they really want…. Shorter races, shorter race seasons, more Manufacturer input, dump THE CHASE, better points system and maybe a smaller field (a.k.a. dump the start and parks). I am sure others have more “wishes”…but I suppose for now we have to take what NASCAR has given and run with it..and hope this is a step in the right direction for the sport.

  6. The Mad Man Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 9:34 am

    What’s happening now is the results of Brian France’s refusal to listen to the complaints made by the drivers, fans, and the few brave souls in the media who questioned his policies and decisions.

    Look what a one-size-fits-all car did for IROC. That’s what NASCAR has become. A glorified IROC series. The one thing IROC had going for it was the cars actually looked like street cars. I can’t say that about the current situation in NASCAR.

  7. L Troxell Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Very good points,and Monies is the reason we have lost
    our sport!!!
    However we will stay tuned in,,what else do we have in
    stock car racing to enjoy ?
    Only thing to change NASCAR would be someone such as
    SMI starting their own Series.
    Recall a few years ago this was being LOOKED at,,what
    happen? Nascar made a deal with SMI.
    There is one other factor POWER,,,,man loves power.
    Safety should be only thing at R & D center.
    Tech all car,teams after event , you Fail you LOSE all

  8. Don Good Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    You’re right about brand identity, and I’m all for it. Heck, my dream is to own a red ‘69 Charger (I might even put a bit white “71″ on it.). However, I don’t think it’s going (or even can) happen to much of an extent. Manufactures no longer make cars that can be raced. Yeah, you can have the shape of a showroom Chevy, but that’s all it would be - the same shape (and maybe that’s enough). Most street cars are 4 door, front wheel drive, and have fuel injection. However, we have race cars that we pretend are derived from non-existent two door modes, they’re rear wheel drive, and have carburetors (which may change soon). Anyway, gone are the days of buying a boxy stock ‘59 Chevy and turning it into a race car. Too bad.

  9. Justin Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Bill B, my sentiments exactly. I completely agree that “Brand Identity” has been lost, but at the same time, this is the only way NASCAR can assure that every car has the same “air package” so to speak. No longer ca one team have an advantage over another, because of the shape of the nose of the car. No longer do we have to listen to Roush whining that Toyota has an aero advantage, or that Chevy has more down force………

    Of all the changes NASCAR has made, I think keeping the exterior of the car identical wasnt necessarily oneof their mistakes….

  10. Charles Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 12:54 pm


    That was a great article and you nailed one of the key issues concerning waning interest from ‘Car Fans”

    Nascar would like to dismiss us Car Fans because like you said its easier for them to have them all alike!

    Look Hendrick, Roush, Childress got in this sport in a era when brand indenity was important and built cars that were different! There was something for all types of fans, Driver and Car Fans! They are by far richer now so I am not interested in saving them money at the expense of a IROC SERIES!

    Now seems Nascar and the Mega Teams who are running more like a big business and dictate whats best for them and saving them money instead of putting the fans interest first!

    Nascars failure to see how important the competition between the brands of cars are in the sport has hurt it!

    Also Richard dont dismiss the ‘Car Fans” as old school or old line fans!

    The Car Hobby and Fan is a growing market not a fading fanstasy, Just look at all the events where the make of car is important, Barrett Jackson this past week has been growing and young people are taking to this hobby! Just go to the Charlotte Autofair that is held twice a year at Lowes orCharlotte Motor Speedway , Carlisle Events and that is growing market that Nascar needs to cater too!

  11. Gina Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Great points in this article, Rich. And all so true.

    I wasn’t interested in the IROC series and NASCAR has turned Cup into IROC and it seems that most fans aren’t interested either.

    Put a real race car back on the track with brand identity, ditch the chase and stop forcing the drivers to spout nonsense and the racing might get interesting again.

    I guess that NASCAR never heard about the first amendment.

  12. Cotton Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    One of the things that made NASCAR popular in the past was that Ford DID, for a while, have an aero advantage over everybody else and Dodge/Plymouth DID, for a while, have an engine advantage over everybody else. If you were not a Ford or Chrysler fan, you couldn’t wait until next year when the discrepancy would, hopefully, be eliminated. Besides, on the short tracks, the aero advantage didn’t mean anything and on the handling tracks, the engine advantage wasn’t all that important.

    NASCAR needs to go back to allowing, not only manufacturer identity, but manufacturer advantages, if that be the case. As far as whining goes, two things: Jack Roush could never hold a candle to Richard Childress, King of the Whiners, and whining should be ignored by NASCAR, since changes to body or engine configurations should only be done by the manufacturer and only because their street design has been changed.

    Finally, Robert Yates proved a few years ago that stock engine configurations, using stock based fuel injection, makes plenty of horsepower for racing.


  13. Richard in N.C. Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    When NASCAR admits any mistake that puts it far ahead of the news media which never admits having made any mistake since it came down the mountain with Moses.

  14. Don Good Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    # Richard in N.C. Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    When NASCAR admits any mistake that puts it far ahead of the news media which never admits having made any mistake since it came down the mountain with Moses.

    When in reality, it came down the mountain with Junior

  15. Bill B Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    While it’s nice to have someone agree with me (it’s so rare) I have to point out that my conclusion was the opposite of yours.

    The only good thing about the COT is that it has stopped a large part of the whining regarding manufacturers having an advantage.

    Unfortunatley the concept of a standard uni-car has failed where it matters most; to produce good racing.

    IF they can fix the car to race better then fine, but if they can’t they might as well throw the manufacturers a bone and let them have their brand identity back (and we will have to put up with the whining from teams that comes with that).

  16. Joe in Pittsburgh Says:
    January 26th, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I think Josie touched on it to a degree. Stick to a true stock body style and if the make has a better aero package,so be it. One way to really battle this is if we had like 4 road course races and 16 short track races and 16 bigger tracks or something along those lines. If you are deficient in the large tracks,then by golly bust yer butt and beat em with horsepower at the short tracks!! THATS where parity would come in. Not this unicar crap running at like 80 percent large cookie cutters. YAAAAWN.