Are People Buying Cars Because Of NASCAR Anymore

Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports /

Back when NASCAR was going through its explosive growth, the motto was win on Sunday, sell on Monday. The connection between track and street is almost gone, so do it help to spend all that money on racing?

As a NASCAR fan since the 70’s, I have seen the sport go through its golden age. From Richard Petty to Dale Earnhardt to Jeff Gordon. They all had close connections to their car maker and helped drive sales. There was a feeling when you got in a Monte Carlo that Dale drove that to victory on Sunday.

In today’s NASCAR they are driving what is called a common template car. There are some parts that try and make the cars have a brand connection. The truth is there are very little of today’s racecar that you will find on your local showroom floor.

For those that do not follow racing, they are racing versions of the Chevy SS, Ford Fusion, and Toyota Camry. All of those are four-door sedans that are being used in the top level of American racing. Of those, the Chevrolet SS is the only one that even sounds like a performance car.

More from Art of Gears

What is worse is that the technology on these cars is ancient is some parts and totally out of reach in others. They use throttle body fuel injection, a 90’s fuel delivery system. NASCAR cars run mechanical fuel pumps, do not have speedometers and run on 15-inch wheels. All things long in the past of modern cars.

What makes this even more befuddling is that the auto industry has gone through a muscle car revolution. The new Camaro’s, Challenger’s, and Mustangs are more popular than they have been in decades. They are offering more power and competing directly against each other. Yet in the Daytona 500, the only real muscle car was the Camaro pace car.

The Plymouth Superbird is one of the most collectible cars in the world. It was designed for NASCAR racing and has become a legend. The 1990’s Monte Carlo SS is still in demand because of its connection to racing with Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon. Does anyone think in twenty or thirty years people are going to buy a 2015 Camry because Kyle Busch drove one?

The carmakers spend millions upon millions of dollars to be in NASCAR. With the falling ratings and popularity running parallel to the modern muscle car explosion, should they be involved? It is a hard question. Dodge pulled out in the middle of bankruptcy and sale to Fiat. Could other manufacturers see the diminishing returns and pull back support? It is a scary proposition for NASCAR, but maybe good for its fans.

As a lifelong fan of NASCAR, I have felt the sport long left me behind. What they really lost, though, was my connection from what I drive to what they race. Brand loyalty was built through racing and its fans. I am afraid that I do not see that changing anytime soon. The farther the cars on the track get away from their counterparts on the street, you loose the connection. The cars that race on Sunday will not sell on Monday.

Next: Dodge Durango SRT A New Class Of Sport SUV