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I can’t wait for those glass dashboards

By admin | July 12, 2012

By Richard Allen


Last week, NASCAR chairman Brian France held a mid-season question and answer session with the assembled media at the Daytona International Speedway to discuss a number of topics. Television coverage, attendance and the level competition in the Sprint Cup division were among the topics on which the sport’s boss offered comments.

While certainly the issues stated above are worthy of attention from the head of NASCAR, clearly the most pressing issue at hand in the sport today is… the need for glass dashboards inside the race cars.

Since its introduction in 2007, the Car of Tomorrow has proven less than popular with fans, teams and drivers. It’s poor handling characteristics and aero-sensitivity have made for a situation in which every car runs essentially the same speed with little passing taking place on the track.

At the root of the problem is the fact that far too many pieces and parts on the car are mandated by NASCAR for the purpose of making the inspection process easier and keeping the field in a tighter box. Being able to say that X number of cars finished a race on the lead lap has apparently become the new benchmark for competitive racing. So forcing teams to use essentially the same setups on their cars has become the rule.

Springs, shocks, spoiler angles, gear ratios, tire pressures and any number of other aspects of the car’s inner workings are dictated before the haulers ever even arrive at the track. With so little room within which to work, teams roll out essentially the same car as their 42 competitors. For the past six seasons, that has even included the body shape of the car as a universal template is used with only headlight and grille decals used to distinguish between the brands.

In 2013, cars on the track will take on more brand identity as the new CoT will allow for each manufacturer to use a unique outer design on the nose and fender areas. But don’t be easily fooled by the window dressing, the inner workings of the car- the part that actually matters- will still be highly regulated.

And that brings us back to the original point. With all the issues this car obviously has in regard to aero-sensitivity and the inability to pass, NASCAR has decided to make a significant change. That’s right, the dashboards are going to be made of glass.

“Your car dashboard in the future is going to be like an airplane cockpit,” France said in his press conference. “You’ll be able to do different things with that and set it up the way you want to set it up. So the first step is for us to have a look and feel that is consistent with what they see their cars looking at on the showroom down the road.”

As has so often been the case during the Brian France era, NASCAR has chosen to go with flash over substance. Hoping the smoke and mirrors of a fancy dashboard will overshadow the fact that much of the passing for the lead in the Sprint Cup division takes place either leading up to or during pit stops.

“There are going to be any number of things once we get this digitally done where that information out of the cockpit can be part of the racing experience for our fans in the stands or anywhere else,” France added in regard to the dashboards.

Of course, this will give TV commentators a new gadget to wow their ever dwindling audiences with… in between the commercial breaks and the over emphasis on just a limited few drivers.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for those glass dashboards. They will make all the difference.

Topics: Articles |

11 Responses to “I can’t wait for those glass dashboards”

  1. Andy Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 7:16 am

    There is much that should be done about aero and all of the current broadcasters should be summarily dumped. But you’re wrong about this. It may be a minor change but it’s a good one.

    I think the digital dashboard will be a boon to drivers and may have wireless capability to allow crew members and TV viewers to monitor the display as well.

    Detroit wants to implement this and this allows them another venue for research. It’s about time that somebody put the stock car back into a Stock Car. Motorsports was created as a testing ground and today there is far too little relevance to what people drive.

    Without the research angle manufacturers have no reason to be there and racing will wither away as a cheaper and less time consuming sport takes over the hearts of teenagers.

    I wouldn’t blame France for this either. The manufacturers probably brought this idea to him. In addition to research, it will probably allow them some brand identity. Something there is damn little of in NASCAR beyond a headlight decal. No doubt there will be a restricted list of suppliers, so Brian will get a kickback that he can put toward personal refreshments.

  2. midasmicah Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 7:55 am

    ….and then nascar is wondering where the fans have gone. With this “innovation” expect a lot more to leave…..

  3. Jim Ricci Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Thank you for being brave enough to expose the farce that has become todays NASCAR! It’s all about the licensing fees, if BZF does not get his “taste”, it not legal to run. The stupid race fans are just waiting for the “latest” new gadget to push the sport forward. I do not understand how BZF continues to stay in this position, he certainly is not the equal to his father or grandfather. There is no connection to the teams or the fans, the lad does not even attend his own races, I doubt he steps foot in the garage area, the leadership that has made this sport has left the building, like Elvis

  4. Russ Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Andy, excuse me, but the last thing Nascar wants is wireless. (At least to make it legal). Too many things can and have been done using wireless technology. For example the controller for a traction control system fits quite nicely in a drivers uniform pocket. Or, could be turned on and off with a remote like your TV from the infield, or even the stands.

    While all for technology, I think they will stay away from that one.

  5. Wayne T. Morgan Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 11:04 am

    You would think that one of the biggest series would try to be more competitive. I mean when I see the local street stocks have more “set ups” something is wrong. Maybe it might change racing forever??

  6. Eric Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Is that all we ever do today is constantly whine and complain about every little thing NASCAR does? They can’t satisfy anyone these days…period, because all you people do is piss and moan 24/7.

    You need to understand…things change. They evolve…and glass dashboards are just a small way of keeping up with current times. France didn’t say this was the solution to their problems, but stated it was something they were working on. That’s it. So why turns this into another NASCAR bitchfest?

    Are we forgetting that NASCAR raised the height of the side skirts recently…to help improve the competition? After everyone complained about tandem racing…are we forgetting they took measures to get rid of it? Are we forgetting that after people complained about races finishing under caution, they gave us a green-white-checkered? Double file restarts…got rid of the front braces…got rid of the rear wing…People whine about all the cars looking the same, so we get the 2013 cars next year, which all look absolutely stellar….and…still you complain. “Don’t be fooled by the inner workings of the car.” Oh really? Let’s make them as stock as possible, meaning no special driver seats or hans device because you wouldn’t find that in a car you could buy at the dealership. We’re talking machines that go 200 mph here…you’ve got to build it in a way to protect the drivers….so it’s ridiculous to think the inner part of the car would ever look like the dealership one.

    My point is, all people do today is complain…and NASCAR makes an attempt to rectify some of the problems and…you still complain….so much as to take something as small as NASCAR working on something to keep up with current times, and turn it into another megaphone for negativity.

    You’re right…glass dashboards aren’t a fix for some of the issues…but, but no one said they were in the first place.

  7. Dennis Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Brian doesn’t get it and never has. As a fan of NASCAR since the 70’s I’ve seen a lot of changes. Some good and some otherwise.

    As we all know, aero-push has destroyed the majority of the racing in NASCAR. Between changes to the car and sanctioning races at every mile and a half cookie-cutter track that popped up, it’s a boring snooze fest parade. The only excitement occurs during the double-wide restarts.

    And here’s where it gets frustrating for TV viewers. The camera direction for the Nationwide and Cup races makes it unwatchable. Tight shots of one or maybe two cars. That doesn’t show the racing. Gives no perspective. You can’t see drivers battling properly. Can’t see drivers closing in on others. Can’t see a passing setup. Can’t even see the track!

    I’ve watched for 3 and 4 hours and felt when it was done, I never actually saw the race. SPEED does it right with the trucks. They keep the cameras panned back generally so you can see what’s going on.

    Then, you add in the unreasonable commercial load and what do you have left? Based on Brian’s recent comments about fan complaints regarding the number of commercials, I wouldn’t expect any change there. NASCAR could lower the limit on the number of commercial minutes per broadcast and let the networks bid for the new contracts accordingly. But, they won’t. NASCAR pats us on the head and declares they are listening to the fans. Instead, they chase the dollars and wonder why people are getting fed up.

  8. Steve Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Eric, I think people are saying that France and his cronies have many other issues to worry about besides glass dashboards. The product on the track is terrible with the exception of very few races, but they never seem to have any interest in addressing this problem.

    And I’m guessing alot of fans like myself are not looking forward to the day when TV broadcasts use this thing as another “gadget”. They don’t show the racing as it is, so they don’t need some other “toy” to play with to avoid showing the actual racing.

  9. Russ Says:
    July 13th, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Food for thought - Yes the new cars will look slightly more like their street counterparts. HOWEVER, Nascar is dictating that they all have the same numbers in the wind tunnel.
    SO, why would you think that the aero problem is going away? Of course, some team will figure out how to get more downforce, less drag, etc. But I think we will see a repeat of what we are seeing now.

  10. Tyler West Says:
    July 15th, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    If they don’t fix the damn aero-push problem the sport will continue to suffer. Equal cars is not exciting. All teams are running the same thing which is crap. There is no room for innovation. It’s a spec league and the crowds are showing their approval. Brian France needs to go along with this dumb-ass Chase!! Dennis is 100% right!

  11. Tony Geinzer Says:
    July 15th, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    I feel like Kanye West’s Recent BET Awards Performance where he had to make the biggest Award Show Performance in any history, because I feel NASCAR has to sell Sponsors and I don’t know how long Kurt Busch can be a Midnight Rider to Mike Helton’s John Wayne and Kyle Busch can’t keep leading the league in Poor Sportsmanship Forever and Ever,Amen.