There was no bigger battle among cars and car racing lovers than Chevy versus Ford. To be more to the point there was no bigger rivalry in racing than the pony car rivalry between Chevy’s Camaro and Ford’s Mustang. The cars looked mean, they looked slick and they were all about speed, competition and winning.
NASCAR has done a lot to answer to fans concerns over the last few years. They have tweaked competition rules, taken their overbearing noses out of on track activities, and tried the make the cars more equal while promoting the level of competition. NASCAR is never going to make everyone happy. Long time fans have to come to terms with the idea that the days of the Alabama Gang fighting with Cale Yarborough on the front stretch and the Intimidator ‘gently’ moving the Iceman out of the way are gone.
In that same thought, new era fans have to realize that this sport is based on hard charging adrenaline soaked competition. “Rubbin’ is racin’.” It’s not just a line from a movie. It’s what NASCAR racing has been from day one; on the beach to the dirt tracks to the superspeedways. The days of ‘young guns’ whining that someone else should have just let them pass because their car was stronger should have never arrived. If your car is stronger, you should have had no problem making the pass. It’s NASCAR!
In the Nationwide series, NASCAR is completing changes to the car design similar to the COT that currently run in Sprint Cup. Manufacturers have also brought back the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger with the street stock nose design. The new cars ran selected races this year and it was easy to see who was driving what. They looked like the street versions. This is something fans have been asking for a while. New car designs are now retro designs to the classic days.
NASCAR has asked Chevy to bring back the Camaro, knowing the popularity of the cars would increase ratings and viewers, but at this point Chevy has refused to oblige. Chevy’s man in charge in NASCAR racing Jim Campbell said, “First, we want to see technologies in the race cars that are applicable to what we do on the production side without driving a tremendous amount of cost…. we want to see the cars that we race look like the cars that we sell, as close as we can.”
Chevy did not bring the Camaro back to the Nationwide Series because the current template restrictions would have changed the overall look and design of the car. It would not have looked like the monster that is running the streets today. With the popularity of the new noses and car designs that have run four times this year in the Nationwide Series, scheduled to run full time in 2011, maybe NASCAR should tweak the templates to allow all the cars to look more street stock? All the manufacturers would probably jump on that. Fans will buy the car that wins. Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday. It’s NASCAR lore.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars are scheduled for the next generation design launch in 2013. Ford has shown interest in bring the Mustang to the Sprint Cup Series. Dodge is already running the Charger. Could the Camaro be far behind? Earlier this month NASCAR announced a change from petroleum only fuel to the higher octane Green E15 ethanol blend from Sunoco for 2011. Manufacturers have been asking for that change for some time. It’s an answer to Campbell’s desire for current street car technology and production concerns. Preliminary tests with engines running on the new E15 blend show promising results, including more horsepower. Brian France knows where the popularity of our sport lies. If the fans want it, NASCAR seems to find some way to deliver it, whether there is a slight compromise in the final result or not.
So the question remains, will Chevy bring the Camaro back to NASCAR to compete with the Mustang and the Challenger. The idea seems like it would rejuvenate the American auto industry more than the government’s failed stimulus package. If so, where will that leave Toyota?
In the words of Jim Campbell, “…we’ll just have to wait and see.”