Domestic automaker to pull out of NASCAR?
A few weeks ago, auto enthusiast site Auto Extremist posted an item that claimed to have inside information that one of the Big Three domestic automakers was considering the possibility of pulling out of NASCAR.
According to the post, said automaker was considering redirecting the massive fundage supporting their current NASCAR efforts — estimated at somewhere around 9 figures — to support production-vehicle based racing series, technical efforts (such as developing engines for IndyCar) and to make a concerted effort to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, arguably the world’s most famous motorsports event. The author of the post has reportedly endured a substantial amount of email abuse since the story broke, but — in the author’s defense — rumblings of diminishing support for NASCAR among the Big Three have been felt for the last few years.
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Some quick Google research reveals a USA Today story by Chris Jenkins (dated May 11th, 2005) that alluded to those concerns, especially with Ford and GM having recent (and sizeable) financial troubles.
One of the great arguments for automakers to get involved in motorsports is the old “Race on Sunday, Sell on Monday” adage — that success in auto racing translates into foot traffic at the local dealer. While one can argue that the success of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo/Subaru Impreza WRX (World Rally Racing) and the Corvette C6 (American LeMans Series, 24-Hours of LeMans) in their respective racing series has undoubtedly helped sales, NASCAR vehicles have little in common with their real-world namesakes.
The Ford Fusion is a mild-mannered FWD sedan with an available 4- or 6-cylinder engine, while the NASCAR variant is a spec-built, tube-framed vehicle with rollbars, a 700hp pushrod V8 and RWD. About the only thing that resembles the real-world Fusion is the faux headlight and grill decals that are affixed to the shell of the vehicle.
The success of such RWD sedans as the Chrysler 300 and the new Dodge Charger may signal Detroit’s return to vehicles that resemble their NASCAR counterparts more closely, but only time will tell. Keep checking DrivelineBlog for updates on this story. – [Jeff James]