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.
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