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Was the Obama/April Fools hoax that far off?

By admin | April 8, 2009

By Richard Allen


In 1582, the French decided to change their calendar and thus moved New Year’s Day from April 1st to January 1st. Those who continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1st were referred to as April Fools.

April Fools hoaxes are somewhat of a tradition. A stupid tradition, but a tradition none the less. Consider the source of origination, but I digress.

This most recent April Fool’s Day saw a prank being pulled in the world of NASCAR. A “story” which originated on the website of a popular auto magazine and was then spread all over the internet explained that President Barack Obama’s administration was in the process of forcing General Motors and Chrysler out of their involvement in NASCAR in exchange for those companies receiving federal bailout money.

The “story” caused quite a stir for a short time until someone must have looked at the calendar and it was realized there was trickery afoot.

Perhaps the reason the made up tale took off so rapidly and fooled so many is that it might not be so far from reality. After all, look at the elements of the faked press release.

In one portion of the release, the following statements were made: “Automakers used to operate on the principle of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday,’ but the Auto Task Force’s research just doesn’t validate that as true,” said the statement from President Obama.  

While fans have decried the Car of Tomorrow for heavily limiting what little personalization the cookie-cutter series had previously allowed to participating manufacturers, and drivers have slammed its brick-like aerodynamics and unpredictable handling, even the governmental oversight committee sees that the full-scale regulation of the cars leaves the manufacturers very little space for research and development.

“NASCAR is a racing series that regulates down to the smallest detail of the cars, where a car badged a Chevrolet or Dodge differs only marginally from a Ford or a Toyota. There’s no technological development to speak of.”

Well, I don’t know about the findings of any Auto Task Force but what in that statement is so outlandish?The ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ cliché has been dead for years. Fans have indeed decried the Car of Tomorrow for its lack of personalization. The series has indeed become too ‘cookie-cutter’. Drivers do voice their displeasure with the CoT. And, NASCAR does regulate far too many pieces and parts on the car which causes there to be virtually no difference between the manufacturers.

Now, I do believe there are benefits to be gained by having the auto manufacturers involved in NASCAR. For their part, the ability to market in racing is still better than other means of reaching the buying public. However, the auto manufacturers ability to market in NASCAR is hardly better than that of Lowe’s, Budweiser, Bass Pro Shops or any other company due to the fact that there is so little actual brand recognition among the cars.

Also, there are innovations in safety and performance that can be applied to the street more quickly because the manufacturers are immediately involved in the application of those innovations in racing. Particularly in the area of safety can racing involvement aid both the manufacturers and the customers.

Without becoming more political than a racing column needs to, it would be difficult to argue with the key points of the “statement”. However, it would seem unlikely that the American manufacturers would be made to pull out of racing just because they have received government bailout money. After all, Citi Financial remains as the sponsor of a car in the Nationwide Series even after they received bailout funds.

When it’s all said and done, GM and Chrysler have far bigger problems than their involvement in NASCAR. But at the same time, NASCAR has problems of its own as well. The April Fools hoax is not so unbelievable in that each of the entities involved has its issues that need to be resolved before it is too late.

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

*On the lighter side, click on the link below to watch my animated short film, “Racing Re-Cap: Texas”. Racing reporter Mark Mustang attempts to recap the Texas race but his co-host, Daisy Dreamboat, had too good of a weekend and is anxious to share her story.

None of the characters represent real people.

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One Response to “Was the Obama/April Fools hoax that far off?”

  1. Ken O Says:
    April 9th, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I’m not sure it was a hoax as much as a preparation for what the ultimate plan will be. It might be like the “feelers” that are put out to see the reaction before a decision is made. I think it will happen later this year if there is a bankruptcy involved as seems likely. A bankruptcy would void contracts and leave several race teams with a shortfall in revenue.