Voices From The Heartland · Jeff Meyer · Thursday June 25, 2009
For years, the Voices that author this column have been stating the obvious and perhaps now, people will begin to finally see the light!
For those that have missed the obvious in the past, I will state it again…very slowly. Read my lips—the old adage of ‘Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday’ is as dead as two of the ‘Big 3’ themselves. Granted, GM and Chrysler are not technically dead, but they have been placed on life support and sent to Barackenstein’s lab in hopes of one day being reborn as something new. Chrysler of course has already been given a new life at the hands of Fiat, an Italian company, of all things, but GM still lies in stasis, waiting for a new brain since the removal of the old one at the insistence of the lab keeper himself.
Despite the current situation of the American auto industry, there is always someone who insists that winning a Cup race in a Chevrolet on Sunday still translates into a boon of selling Chevrolets on Monday! That simply is not true. If it were, if there really was the ‘hugely beneficial’ marketing connection between a win and sales, why are the Big 3 in the state they are today?
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t always this way. Back in the 80’s, when actual chrome bumpers were still attached to Cup cars, the adage did have some merit. I mean you could actually see the difference of the cars. You could tell a Chevy from a Dodge or a Ford from a Pontiac. I dare you to do that today. Manufacturer identity is DEAD! Get over it already!
During the last couple of years, we have seen several Cup level teams switch ‘virtually overnight’ from one manufacturer to another, each adding validity to my argument that ‘manufacturer identity’ in NASCAR is worth about as much as a Brian France autograph. The latest rumors however—you know, the one that has Richard Petty Motorsports running BOTH Dodge and Toyota ‘cars’ within a month or so—have taken it to a new level!
Recently, Richard ‘The King’ Petty, a man that is notoriously linked to Dodge, had this to say when asked about running two manufacturers out of one shop. “You know, I’ve asked the same question. Really, I have. I said, ‘What if?’ And I think that’s what we’re gonna have to do. We’re gonna have to say, ‘What if?’ and then see if it’s done and what would it be to be able to do something like that. The problem I see with running two different kinds of cars out of the same shop is basically the engine shop. The cars have got the same wheels, same brakes, same chassis, same basic body so all that stuff would be easy. The big deal was how could you do the motor situation? That would be the big question mark. I don’t know if it’s ever been done but if it could be done we could probably do it.”
Everything is the same except the engines! Gee, I hadn’t noticed! I thought I could go into my Dodge dealer tomorrow and buy the very same car Kasey Kahne won with last Sunday. What do you mean you it doesn’t come with a 358 cubic inch engine!? And why don’t the rear end and windows look the same? I can’t get it with the front splitter and rear wing package? Guess I’ll have to visit a Honda dealer! Which brings us to another interesting situation.
Brian France recently announced that there have been talks with other ‘foreign’ manufacturers about testing the NASCAR waters. This of course has ignited a whole new firestorm of hate from the so called ‘purists’…you know, the ones that are so vehemently against Toyota, but yet forget that for the last few years Dodge was a German company and is now in the hands of yet another WWII rival. Yeah, they hate Honda, too! Never mind that a Honda in NASCAR will look EXACTLY like a Chevy.
But hey, it all comes down to engines doesn’t it? Not that the engines themselves are all that different, just that they are made with different parts from different companies. Not that you or I could get those parts for our Chevy or Toyota. No, those are special parts made for one specific reason – NASCAR. But don’t feel left out! Heck, the whole rumor about RPM running Toyota and Dodge got started because it is said that they have only enough parts for one more new ‘Dodge’ engine! Easy fix thankfully for Kasey Kahne and team though, simply get some Toyota parts, build a 358 cid engine, much like the 358 cid ‘Dodge’ engine that was in the car, slap some new stickers on it and BINGO, we just made a Charger into a Camry!
Folks, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not advocating a push here for so called ‘foreign’ manufacturers in NASCAR. What I am advocating is that we call a spade a spade and get on with the racing! They are all kit cars that bear no resemblance to anything on the showroom floor today.
The time has come for what has been suggested for the Nationwide and Truck Series…switch to a ‘crate’ engine—engines that are built by a consortium of engineers for various manufacturers, which by the way, I had said before! If a team wants to be associated with a specific ‘brand’, let the highest bidder buy and place their stickers on the car! It would certainly be a more reliable way to get money from a manufacturer than worrying if the company is going to pull support altogether.
Honestly, I would love to see an actual Ford Fusion race a Chevy Impala and a Toyota Camry, but hey, that is NOT going to happen. Ironically when you look on the street, the only cars that today’s Cup cars resemble are the tricked out ‘tuners’. You know…Hondas, Nissans…yeah, those ‘foreign ones!
Stay off the wall,
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