Friday, October 30, 2009

The Car of Tomorrow is a Complete Failure

I Don't know where to even begin on the so-called "Sprint" Cup. I can objectively comment on the season as I normally do, discussing driver this and team that, but when it comes right down to it, the racing sucks. The tracks have something to do with it, but mostly, it's the "Car of Tomorrow."

How about the Car of Sorrow? Is this an ugly turd or what? What, exactly, does any manufacturer have in terms of incentive to stay with the series? The engines are damn near spec and have very little in common with any production piece (although you can buy the basic components from a performance dealer), and the bodies have absolutely NOTHING in common with their real-world versions--so where is the "Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday?" Does Toyota or Chevy honestly think people see the race on Sunday, then go buy a Camry or Impala SS because it won on the track? It's this same "head-in-the-sand" oblivious reasoning that's killing the entire industry.

I am NOT one of those close-minded fools who thinks they should LITERALLY go back to racing *stock* cars. Those days are gone. In the 70s, NASCAR saw that V8, RWD vehicles were going the way of the dinosaur for the average North American family (they held out, but it's still true today), and had to decide "Should we switch to front wheel drive, 4 cylinder shitboxes?"

Thankfully, they said no and stuck to their format, and the entire stockcar racing industry followed suit--which is why we still race 1980s Monte Carlos and Camaros. And while it sucks that we're running out of body panels and good doners--would you rather be racing these cars, or Honda Accords around Daytona? I don't like the idea of a Daytona 500 taking 14 hours to complete, I dunno about you.

To fix the problem? It's really very simple. Two rules:

1. Engines must have production cylinder head and block. If there's less horsepower, so be it. Eventually, the engine builders will find a way to make more. Check the casting numbers, it must be a block and a set of heads you can buy over the counter.

Make fuel injection mandatory--the "cost" argument" is pointless and never made sense, EFI these days will cost virtually the same as the development and dyno tuning of those carburetors. Mandate a sealed ECU if you want, but these things need to be EFI. And, should the manufacturer wish it, OHC as well. Why not have an LS7-based engine with pushrods in the Chevys, while the Toyotas and Fords run their production-based OHC versions? There are other ways to make the engines somewhat equal, to help level the playing field.

2. Mandate that production sheetmetal must be used, with minor alterations. In other words, NOT like 1960s NASCAR, but like 1980s NASCAR. Keep the chassis, keep the wheelbase, keep all that, but put the PRODUCTION BODY on top--whether it's from a FWD family car or not, it doesn't matter, but it should LOOK like a car you can buy on the street. The last cars to do this were the Thunderbird and 80s Monte Carlo. Even the Lumina. It was the Taurus that first broke out of this idea. This would encourage manufacturers to try out bold new aerodynamic designs, or put unlikely bodies onto their stockcars (ie. Toyota might find the Solara body better than the Camry body.)

I like the idea that the COT is safer. Fine, we get that. But it's ugly as hell and, more importantly, the aero is a complete failure that makes the car push like a dumptruck. And what does NASCAR do when teams try to fix it, like Roush last year with the "crab walk" stance? BAN THE FIXES. It's ridiculous.

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