Why Isn't ChryCo Dodging NASCAR?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Dodge doesn’t compete in NASCAR to test new technology. Nor does NASCAR highlight fundamental attributes of Dodge vehicles the way, say, Subaru’s rally competition does. So why stick around when resources are so tight? “NASCAR fans love performance and Dodge fans love to win,” explains Michael Accavitti, Director of Dodge Brand and SRT Marketing at Chrysler Blog. “It’s always been a match made in heaven and we intend to remain involved in the NASCAR sport for the foreseeable future.”

We currently have seven teams representing Dodge, which we truly believe is the right level this year. In the past, we’ve sponsored as many as 12 cars at one time. Our experience showed that we spread our resources a little bit too thin. We’ve never been a big organization; we’ve always prided ourselves on being more nimble and smaller than the other guys to succeed. We’ll strike that appropriate balance where we can have a good Sunday afternoon for our Dodge fans. That’s what it’s really all about. So we’ve refocused our resources on fewer teams to produce better results, and I think that’s what you’re seeing on the track this year.

Refocused? So why are Dodge-backed teams still waiting on ChryCo for money? And yet, despite the “procedural issues,” even the new Italian bosses are behind the effort.

It’s worth noting that Fiat has already proven to be a valuable partner. From a corporate and engineering standpoint, Fiat is quickly offering us new technologies for production vehicles, and that technology sharing can carry over to motorsports. Anything that we could use, and that NASCAR would allow us to use in this sport, is something that we would certainly want to look at.

But in this statement lies the essence of why NASCAR simply isn’t worth the effort. Specifically, the “anything NASCAR would allow us to use” part. New fuel injection technology? Forget it. Traction control? Ha! Hybrid powertrains? What is this, Formula 1? If Dodge is going to enter the 21st Century, technology has to be fundamental to its performance image.

In this sense, NASCAR is a historical deadweight anchoring Dodge to the past. Which would be bad enough on the brand level alone, but this atavistic approach is more than just evident in Dodge’s products: it defines them. Challenger sales have already started to drop off as the novelty of its retro looks falls victim to its utter lack of value as a sports car. Yet, as long as NASCAR remains Dodge’s sole motorsport focus, there’s little chance of developments filtering their way into retail products. Creating sporting vehicles which attract sustained interest and enthusiasm requires more than NASCAR’s time-warp retro racing as a draw. It might not make sense for Dodge to withdraw from NASCAR completely, but the time has come to think about making a right-hand turn.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Aug 23, 2009

    My prediction is that the Koni Challenge series, running real production based Mustangs, Camaros and Challengers, will be a hit. The smartest thing NASCAR could do is switch the Nationwide series to actual "stock" cars based on the above revived pony cars.

  • Rpol35 Rpol35 on Aug 23, 2009

    Why single out Dodge? If it is true for them, then it is true for GM, Ford & Toyota. As a matter fact, I don't believe Toyota ever had a push-rod V8 engine from which to draw and they, I believe, are the least likely of all NASCAR participants though they have adapted and done well. Dodge is probably the most likely candidate as a Dodge Charger more closely resembles its Sprint Cup car version. While admittedly not real close, it's closer than a FWD Impala, Fusion or Camry. NASCAR is not designed to be a R&D workbench for the auto industry. I'm not sure what it is really supposed to be as the old mantra of "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday" is long gone. It's entertainment I guess; I think it's a stretch calling it a sport.

  • Geozinger Put in the veggie garden (Western Michigan, we still can get frost this late in the year) finished the remainder of the landscaping updates and hand washed both my beater Pontiac and the Town and Country! Going to the beach today...
  • Rochester I wouldn't obsess over the rate of change, it's happening whether we want it or not.
  • EBFlex At the summer property putting boats in the water, leveling boat lifts, cleaning the lots for summer, etc. Typical cabin stuff in the most beautiful place on the planet
  • Lou_BC I've I spent the past few days in what we refer to as "the lower mainland". I see Tesla's everywhere and virtually every other brand of EV. I was in downtown Vancouver along side a Rivian R1T. A Rivian R1S came off as side street and was following it. I saw one other R1S. 18% of new vehicles in BC are EV'S. It tends to match what I saw out my windshield. I only saw 2 fullsized pickups. One was a cool '91 3/4 ton regular cab. I ran across 2 Tacoma's. Not many Jeeps. There were plenty of Porches, Mercedes, and BMW's. I saw 2 Aston Martin DBX707's. It's been fun car watching other than the stress of driving in big city urban traffic. I'd rather dodge 146,000 pound 9 axle logging trucks on one lane roads.
  • IBx1 Never got the appeal of these; it looks like there was a Soviet mandate to create a car with two doors and a roof that could be configured in different ways.