While NASCAR’s sixth generation stock car is supposed to make racing more about the driver than technology, the sanctioning body is pushing an equally-important agenda by trying to sell the new look to the general public.
While race teams continue to work on creating a new competitive edge for the upcoming season, NASCAR has been busy showing off the new car during a national tour.
Executives from NASCAR, Ford, General Motors and Toyota were in Detroit on Tuesday to kick off a nine-day, multi-city media blitz so fans can see the differences in all three cars.
After campaigning similar-looking cars since 2007, the new design is supposed to bring back a distinctive manufacturer identity. NASCAR charged Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota with creating cars that look just like the ones in the parking lots at each track.
Now everyone hopes it stirs a new interest in the sport.
“We’ve found that four of five of our fans have an affinity for the brand of car,” NASCAR president Mike Helton said. “A lot of those relationships are even older than the relationship with their favorite drivers. We believe this will help build the identity of the driver with the race car and their relationship with the manufacturer.”
The outdated fifth generation car emphasized safety. All cars fit the same set of templates and were distinguishable primarily through manufacturer decals. Now it should be easier to tell the current Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet SS apart by their shape, not their stickers.
“The long-nose, short-tail designs more closely mirror the styling of the production cars and better enable the manufacturers to use NASCAR to market their brands,” Helton said.
But just to make sure, NASCAR now requires each driver’s name and manufacturer decal to be displayed across the top of the windshield.
Car companies now hope to revive the “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” maxim that used to be the backbone to their business.