By on July 6, 2015

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 28:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Crispy Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

I am completely at a loss to think of another sport that tests man and machine as much as motorsport. Maybe bobsledding? Nah, scratch that.

Automakers have a history of testing their latest and greatest at road courses, ovals and street circuits all over the world. Some of the best technological innovations have come directly from racing. But, is that still the case? Is racing still the test bed it used to be for what we see on our cars a decade from now? And does it still help automakers capture the hearts and minds of the car-buying public?

Formula 1, the multi-billion dollar single-seater racing series controlled by a British troll, has gone down the rabbit hole of high technology and, to a degree, fuel economy. The new breed of Formula 1 “power units” — as they are now called — are a combination of turbocharged V6 engines and electric drivetrain systems. The days of a relatively simple V10 are over, as is the noise and overall spectacle of a Formula 1 car.

Today’s production cars are certainly becoming more tech laden. However, whether the technology is directly derived from racing is another point entirely. I can’t remember the last time I saw an ad for a piece of technology taken from an automaker’s F1 efforts and applied to a vehicle on the showroom floor.

That’s not to say racing is irrelevant because the technology cannot be directly transferred. Instead, Formula 1 has turned into a marketing exercise disguised as a high-brow sport. Infiniti, and possibly Aston Martin in the future, has sponsored Red Bull Racing for a few years now, but the team has never once used an engine built — or even branded — by Infiniti. Yet, the Cars of the Bulls that are Red still wear multiple Infiniti logos all over their bodywork.

NASCAR is a completely different can of beer, but the outcome is very much the same. Chevrolet, Ford, and Toyota are the only three automakers contesting America’s motorsport of choice after Dodge decided the investment was no longer returning the needed rewards. After all, today’s NASCAR cars are no longer even loosely connected to what you can buy at your local dealer — though a push-rod V8 Camry would be a tempting proposition. The disconnection is compounded when you realize many engines in NASCAR are built by engine builders and not the automakers themselves.

The motorsport that turns left is another marketing exercise — though not as polished in its fan base or technology as Formula 1 — that exists simply to show you what candy you should by, where your should enlist for service, and multiple options for achieving *ahem* stature.

Even IndyCar, with its less ambitious technological aims, is only supplied by two automakers — Chevrolet and Honda — with nary a piece of tech making it to either of their showrooms.

What about club racing? Certain members of TTAC’s roster believe all car reviewers should be track aficionados, possessing the ability to push a Nissan Pathfinder to its physical limits in an effort to deliver the best value to readers. Many of these reviewers are club racers of one flavor or another, whether it be entry-level Spec Miata or top-flight competition at the SCCA Runoffs, but it is difficult to justify club racing as relevant to the general car-buying public. I’ve never once heard “I am extremely interested in XYZ model … but where did it place in the Runoffs this year?” The commercial viability of marketing in such a space is quite small as well as there is virtually no media coverage of club events.

Speaking of media coverage, the three top-level racing series mentioned above have seen their TV viewership dwindle over the years. Formula 1 lost 25 million viewers thanks to a switch to pay TV in Britain and a laundry list of other reasons. NASCAR can’t fill all the seats at their biggest race of the year. And, well, IndyCar is IndyCar. Even as an excuse for dumping large amounts of marketing cash, racing is a case of diminishing relevance.

And just to drive the point home a little bit more: Mazda. They are likely the most recognizable marque at your local road course or autocross and they cross the finish line first more often than any other automaker in America. In terms of sales, Mazda finished 18th last year.

But, that’s just what I think. What about you, Best & Brightest? Is motorsport still relevant in today’s automotive marketplace?

[Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images]

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66 Comments on “QOTD: Is Motorsport Still Relevant?...”

  • avatar

    For motor sports to be relevant, car makers need to demonstrate how technological innovations they have developed for racing trickle down to the cars in the dealership. For the most part, that relationship is broken today.

    • 0 avatar

      Most of the latest technology can’t be used in racing, either because the cars become too fast for spectator safety, or the electronic aids are judged to take too much away from driver skill.

  • avatar

    Make NASCAR what it was in the 1950s with actual cars from the showroom, stripped down for racing, glass removed, roll bars and safety seats/harnesses, doors chained and welded shut and I would give a crap again.

    Plus if you could run those cars flat out for 500 laps without the engines blowing up you’d have my respect.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you on that. When the only thing “Stock” in your “Stock Car Racing” series is vaguely the shape of some of the body panels, you have a serious problem.

      NASCAR needs some LeMons-style rules along the lines of: “You need to be able to buy the car in an actual dealership for $50k MSRP (or whatever), prior to racing-specific safety upgrades. (Roll-cage, seats/harness, firefighting, electrical, fuel tank protection, etc. No changes to the engine, transmission, braking, or suspension allowed.)”

      As it stands right now, it’s no different from any other racing series, except for the fact that the cars are bigger.

      Such a series would be slower, but there would now be real differences between manufacturers instead of the “manufacturer” simply determining which logo gets displayed on the results.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you, Dan, 100%. I started watching NASCAR when it was presented on Saturday’s Wide World of Sports. Still remember the frustration when they cut away from a race to bring you… figure skating highlights! But anyway, this was still the day when they were actually basically stock cars; when the dealer had RPO’s in the back of his book for a stripped car with the hottest engine they made. Then it all went haywire.
      First they dropped the homologation requirement, because after all, what was being trailered to the track was not for sale to the public. I think there is still a requirement that the rear trailing arms must be based on a ’65 Ford Galaxie. I suspect this was a gift to the Detroit 3, as it eliminated the necessity of developing special limited models like the Daytona/Superbird and the Torino Talladega. Why work on having the best aero when you’re only going to be spoilered down to the equivalent of the guy with the worst?
      What they achieved was the elimination of actual competition. Brand A’s bodywork can’t be any slicker than Brand B, C, or D’s because fairness. Nor can anybody’s engine be superior, which was enforced with restrictor plates. This was done in the name of safety, because driving a racing car in a championship series shouldn’t be any more dangerous than doing valet parking. Greats like Nuvolari, Fangio, and Clark must be spinning in their graves, not at the addition of safety equipment – they probably would have liked not having their leather-covered heads as the most prominent element of the superstructure – but at the constant whining about the race cars being too fast. The excuse was that the fans liked it better when the race was close and everybody was neck-and-neck. God forbid that one brand or one team should get everything right and devastate the competition, because you know that it’s impossible for the competition to go back to the drawing board and come up with an equalizer.
      Then, when NASCAR realized to their surprise that they still had actual fans left they came up with the abortion also known as the Car Of Tomorrow. As in tomorrow we’ll disband entirely. So basically you have an IROC series with minimally looser rules, BUT you get to have any kind of decals imitating any kind of lights and grille you like! Because stock cars.
      It’s all become a noisy outdoor version of professional wrestling. I can’t be bothered to waste time on this farce. Give me access to a touring car championship – US, British, World, anybody’s – and you’ve got my attention. if I was watching this BS as I was growing up, I’d wait for the figure skating.

      • 0 avatar

        “Still remember the frustration when they cut away from a race to bring you… figure skating highlights!”

        Reminds me of playing pranks with one of those universal TV remotes in the college dorms. Some dude was watching figure skating by himself in the TV lounge… sneaky sneaky we flipped channels until finding something more suitable- professional wrestling (couldn’t find any auto racing on other channels) and turned up the volume to max. Kid got up, walked up to the TV to change the channel back to his figure skating. Repeat a few times before he finally figured what was up.

        Looking back we got bored pretty easily.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m skeptical about whether a production-based car, no matter how well reinforced, is ever going to protect the driver adequately to survive getting barrel-rolled into the Daytona catchfence at 190…

      • 0 avatar

        There is a way to do it. With autonomous technology starting to trickle into the automotive world, why not have a stock series driven by autonomous technology. It would give the manufacturers one hell of a platform to push the leading edge on autonomous technology and give us a safe way of racing mostly stock cars.

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what I came here to say.

      Modern motorsports are a highly competitive engineering exercise. I’ve run supercomputers at work, and I’ve been through the drill (just in a different discipline). The fact that you can’t aspire to just show up and try to race kind of undoes the whole idea behind stock car racing.

      It took me a few double takes the first time I saw a “Ford Taurus” stock car (I’m revealing my age) to realize that the only connection between that and the actual car you find in stock at your local dealer is a shared marketing name. That’s a custom built racing machine, not a stock car.

      I really like haring about the 24 Hours of LeMons races for this reason. I don’t think I’ll do those races (I’m too busy raising my two sons to spend 2 years building a racecar), but the fact that I *could* if I wanted to makes it *much* more interesting to watch. And, if one of my kids shows a serious interest in racing and wrenching in about 10 years, I know where to start! :-)

    • 0 avatar

      Exactly what I was thinking Dan. I was probably overseas when Nascar started mandating that all the cars be essentially the sam. Lee Petty wouldn’t recognize whats out there now and I quit watching them. They are not relevant to me. Neither is drag racing. As late as the sixties you could drive to the strip, run, and if you didn’t break anything drive home. Now it’s all about the $.

  • avatar

    No. Motorsport is utterly irrelevant. Through the 1980s, motorsport and production technology still had some direct links. As the digital age came to fruition, the cars became too fast to race on the old circuits, and the pace of innovation quickly outstripped old technological ties to the production market. However, motorsport was indirectly useful as an incubator for talented engineers who were developing new simulation methods, testing and benchmarking procedures, and rapid prototyping. Even if the vehicles were irrelevant, the systems and procedures to build cars were still useful. Today, racing is a bad joke. The technical regulations are strict. The engineers are bored. The technology for engineering and building the cars is mature.

    The last remaining shred of usefulness to the production car industry is marketing and B2B activities. Unfortunately, the rules are strict so having an identity is nearly impossible. In formulas where the rules are loose and powertrain/vehicle-layout are diverse, the competition is performance balanced. The public can glean nothing from watching the cars go around the track, and that’s why BoP series are used to sell expensive GT race cars to wealthy amateurs.

    Professional motorsport has committed suicide.

    • 0 avatar

      TW5 – I agree. Rules restrict what can be used. I don’t see NHRA spec “elephant” block engines used anywhere nor do I see any small block resembling a NASCAR engine in use today.
      Toyota engineers said they were reverse engineering a dinosaur when they joined NASCAR.

  • avatar
    CHINO 52405

    Some of the old guard are no longer relevant but just off the top of my head: Audi’s Hybrid Diesel engines dominated Le Mans and are now on the streets; Formula E just had a successful inaugural season; GT racing directly influences many manufacturers halo vehicles and results may actually impact sales here; the lightest possible materials providing the most safety will likely continue to come from racing; Ferrari and McLaren pass F1 aero directly onto their road cars.

    The engineers designing road-going cars and power plants are amazing in their own right and do not rely on racing tech to trickle down. However, I would personally love to see an electric endurance race with no limitations to start (other than one car only per team). It would be great to see the battery swap, charging, etc tech that would could be dreamt up through a competition like that.

    • 0 avatar

      WEC is about the only series right now that seems to allow enough innovation to have any relevance for the development of technology for road cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      Yup. LeMans-type sports-prototype and Formula E racing may be the only forms of motorsports that are truly relevant any longer. I’ve been an auto racing fan since the 1960s. But it’s seeming more and more as if the sport was really a 20th Century phenomenon that’s just hanging on now with less-and-less interest on the part of fans with each passing year.

      Perhaps this is as it should be: Few members of the general public are aviation fans or space-program watchers any longer. I believe this is a sign of how far we have come – far enough for most people to take something for granted, be it planes, trains or automobiles.

  • avatar

    In an age where the sports car market is shrinking and crossovers and infotainment systems are king, I do think racing is becoming less relevant to common production cars.

    NASCAR has been a pure marketing exercise for a very long time, with nearly no meaningful contribution to road car technology. Heck, they just switched to *fuel injection* a few years ago. Meanwhile, fuel injection has been standard on nearly every road car for at least 20 years.

    When I think of racing technologies that have recently trickled down to common cars, I think of:
    1. turbochargers, which is still a relatively old technology
    2. dual-clutch / automated-manual transmissions
    3. tires
    4. lightweight materials and construction
    5. lighting
    and most importantly…

    Note I did not mention direct gasoline injection, which I believe was adopted primarily from aircraft engines decades ago.

  • avatar

    In general, Motorsports stopped being relevant when the requirements of homologation went by the wayside…. When this happened, I feel we lost the direct connection to the product as well as the direction involvement by the OEMs.

    • 0 avatar

      They still homologate everything, but I know what you mean. When they stopped homologating production vehicles, some of which were road-legal production vehicles, racing definitely took a turn for the worse.

      The teams want to develop proprietary technology; therefore, no production homologation, but, if they won’t put the technology on a production racing vehicle, they won’t put it on a production road vehicle, either. The sanctioning bodies never call their bluff, and the manufacturers continue piling on irrelevant junk tech.

  • avatar

    One thing I’ve noticed is that some really high-end hypercars, or really limited-production variants of certain exotics, now tend to be called some variant of “Club Sport.”

    It used to be that the top end version of a car was an “R” or a “GT,” implying a flat-out racing purpose. “Club Sport,” on the other hand, seems to be an admission that in addition to blasting around a track, the purpose of the vehicle is to show off your bank account to the other members of your country club.

  • avatar

    Motorsport is relevant to the fans who like to watch the competition and to the companies who use it for marketing benefit. So in short, about as relevant as the NFL or MLB.

    Everyone likes to romanticize how motorsport used to be about technical innovation, but it really very quickly became more about selling tickets and advertising about a half century ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Eric Aubanel

      Agreed. It’s like any other sport: entertainment + business. The answer to the question can be found in the OEM’s involvement. By that measure it’s pretty relevant, from Kia’s participation in PWC to the new Ford GT.

    • 0 avatar

      The competitive model used by NFL or MLB is nothing like motorsport. Furthermore, human performance is relevant to everyone who’s played sports or wished they could play sports. That’s why the NFL is worth 10x more than F1 or NASCAR. More relevant with much better competitive model.

      • 0 avatar

        TW5 – good point.
        How many NFL or MLB fans played football or baseball growing up or as adults?
        Most of us have never raced a vehicle (at least on a track).

        Danio is correct that it is relevant from a spectator perspective like any other spectator pastime but is it relevant to the vehicles we drive?
        Since that was mentioned……. what is the sell cost for a minute of TV advertising for a premium motorsport event versus SuperBowl?
        Unless you have to be on the fringe with a highly specialized and limited run vehicle that has some technological “trickle down”.

    • 0 avatar

      Motorsports worldwide was the recipient of hundreds of millions (or maybe billions?) in tobacco money. That was one of the real sources of propulsion. That kind of money hasn’t been easy to replace.

  • avatar

    “think of another sport that tests man and machine as much as motorsport”

    Staying middle-class?

    • 0 avatar

      +1000. I know it is really testing me and my Sienna.

      As far as motorsports, how about putting a figure 8 in a few of these tracks? It won’t do anything for motorsport relavance, but it sure would make it more entertaining.

      • 0 avatar

        “ about putting a figure 8 in a few of these tracks?”

        Excellent. Like arming animals to shoot back at hunters, that would certainly put more “sport” into the ritual.

      • 0 avatar

        Amen, brother!

        Me and my Sienna are working on it too.

        I never know if I’m overshooting the mark and working more than I have to, or undershooting the mark and leaving my family at risk.

        I’ve already been laid off once this year. It worked out for the best (I got a raise, and I work for a saner company), but damn, it’s not just a theoretical possibility anymore. The only thing I know is that I picked a volatile industry, back when I was a kid and didn’t know any better.

        But, yeah, staying employed is a sport that requires peak performance from both man and machine. I’m the man. And I maintain the $&*((#@ machines. :-)

  • avatar
    John R

    Sometimes I think Drifting is the more relevant compared to F1 and NASCAR.

    At least those guys are using a car and motor you can actually buy.

  • avatar

    RedBull cars are as much powered by Infiniti engines as anything, since Infiniti, Nissan and Renault are all the same company. For quite a few years Nissan has served to sell crummy French-developed cars that the market had learned to reject from Renault.

  • avatar

    I feel like motorsport was never really that relevant. At least not since I’ve been alive. Turbo/supercharging and I believe fuel injection came from aviation. Variable valve timing/lift came from the coke binge of the 80s. Hybrid tech was essentially created in a vacuum. Direct injection came from diesels. Even a lot of racing tech came from elsewhere. Aerodynamics came from aviation for example.

    Then add to the fact that racing bans so many techs, which creates bigger problems. For example, MotoGP bans DCTs. So to make a seamless gearbox, manufacturers end up spending millions developing what I have called “a careful assemblage of broken glass”, resulting in gearboxes so mindblowingly complex there is zero road bike feasibility. I’m sure it’s a similar story elsewhere.

    Closest link I can think of is the active suspensions in F1, which were SWIFTLY banned upon the discovery of their effectiveness. Real shame. But yea, you look at something like a Toyota Camry, there has never been any motorsport trickledown, and that’s representative of 6-7 standard deviations of the auto market. Motorsport ties were just spurious exercises in bubble fueled exhuberance.

  • avatar

    From a marketing standpoint, NASCAR still seems to matter. If it contributes to sales gains and brand building, then it’s probably worth it.

    And to the extent that racing keeps the automakers’ engineers engaged, it’s probably also good for employee morale. They should get more out of their people if those workers are able to have some fun on the job.

  • avatar

    Motorsport is relevant as entertainment and as a marketing tool but in no way to the design and manufacture of mass-production cars.

    That’s hardly a surprise as the engineering goals of racing and road driving are so different. Cars are engineered for comfort, safety, durability, economy, utility and visual appeal while racers are is simply designed to go fast around a very smooth racing circuit with very little regard for anything else.

    However, because racing is exciting (and most cars are not), most manufacturers are falling over themselves to associate the two through marketing efforts – you know big wings, body kits, carbon fiber and loud exhausts etc but nothing really meaningful.

    This is also borne out in the budgets for car design and racing programs. The budgets for new car platforms are in the billions. Racing budgets are small by comparison and often paid for out of marketing funds and not engineering.

  • avatar

    Sorry, but you completely lost me at “…a push-rod V8 Camry…”

    Are you kidding me? How about a ZL1 Camaro, Hellcat Challenger or whatever the ultimate Mustang is, but Camry? Please leave town after that phrase!

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Because at their top level NASCAR aka CASHCar wants you to believe there are V-8 Camry’s and V-8 rear wheel drive Fusions. At least Chevy is somewhat close with rear wheel drive V-8 SS’. MOPAR folded their tent and left Southeast United States based motorsports.

  • avatar

    Most motorsporting series are about entertainment and sponsorship. Even the most technically advanced series such as Formula 1 is not relevant to road car development or road car owners when it comes to technical development and engineering despite spending multi millions to look relevant. Perhaps the only series is that still fits the bill is WEC, but that is hardly a ubiquitous series the way Nascar was up until a few years ago, or second only to the World Cup as Formula 1 was. MotoGP still applies its race technology to road bikes, but that’s a far smaller segment of the population as compared to automobiles. Racing doesn’t always improve the breed, we can certainly see that in Nascar, and only need to look as far back at Honda and Toyota’s failed attempts at Formula 1 teams to see that’s not the case.

  • avatar

    World Endurance Championship. Road relevant technology, several major automakers already involved with more evaluating the potential. Open development seems to be attracting top shelf talent from formula one where the rules are not only closed, but even changing…

    • 0 avatar

      was going to post on WEC but you put it very succinctly here. Shame that WEC is barely known here in the states…you really have to look for it even though it is televised now, but its not really marketed as it should be. I think there is potential in this series. The technology…especially from a performance aspect is definitely relevant and has indeed trickled down to road cars.

  • avatar

    I think it’s still relevant. Like others have said, most of the filtering down is coming from WEC and other road racing series. NASCAR has never really been that relevant with what you could drive on the roads maybe with the exception of the Hemi’s of the late 60’s. Mazda is using their diesel prototypes in the TUDOR series to improve their street cars although it’s been tough going since they’re lucky if a car finishes the race.

  • avatar

    I stopped going to F1 races when the cars switched from using fire breathing racing engines to ‘power units’. I’d give it a few more years until some drastic changes will again be made to attract those few who still give a damn.

    Nascar stopped being so about 35 years ago. It’s now a mobile advertising agency.

    Indycar was relevant when household names were driving. It was really never about the cars…more about the drivers. There was a brief ‘powered by Chevrolet (Illmore)’ era, but deep down most Indycar (CART) fans new it was just a shell game.

    IRL back in the 90’s was interesting when the formula was loosely based on the ‘stock block’ concept. This was the dawn of the 4 cam V8 for the manufactures involved – which at least proved relevant for Olds (Aurora) and Infiniti buyers.

  • avatar

    Racing is pretty much irrelevant as far as being the technological proving ground for road cars. And, the ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ connection is long broken. But, it remains a spectacle in terms of the skill and daring of men and women who race.
    The technology has reached the point where, given an open rule-book and unlimited cash, you could create a car far beyond the ability of a human to operate it, much like fighter planes. But, not even F1 has that kind of money.
    So, modern racing has to live within restraints of tightened rules, limited testing and imposed budgets. Unfortunately this seems lead down a short road to spec-racing, which leads to pack-racing. It can be hugely exciting, but in a way racing as a sport loses some sophistication for spectators. There is, I think, a real appeal to watching a driver set up a decisive pass, rather than inching by in the pack.
    The fans and many media often say they want variety in the cars and personality in the drivers. The vested interests however want status-quo, that is, they want no grey areas where another team can gain an advantage, or drivers that say the wrong things. Thus even the liveliest personalities get reduced to shills most often.
    An aspect of racing that’s unfortunate is the specialization. I used be equally interested in what a Mark Donohue or Mario Andretti was doing in Indycars, Can-am, Trans-Am, Sports-Prototypes, etc.

  • avatar

    Ecclestone flogged offf F1 a decade ago and made billions. Now he has about 15 or 20% of the resultant FOM and gets paid as the Don of the Mob, oops CEO, ripping off countries and circuits to have the mere privilege of hosting a Grand Prix.

    The FIA sets the technical and sporting regulations for the series. That used to be headed by the S&M king Max Mosley – he now tests Indian and Chinese cars to UNECE standards in Germany, which they spectacularly fail, and then his company offers “consulting” on how to pass the tests.

    A couple of low-lifes, in my opinion. So the FIA appointed Jean Todt, ex-Ferrari team manager of the Schumacher epoch as its head in 2009, so he could make sure Ferrari, the crowd favorite of the uninformed, always wins. As this has not happened, Todt has led the FIA down a sewer hole of introducing hybrid regulations so that the cars today are commpletely useless, quiet and no fun for the spectator or enthusiast. Combine that with FOM, Formula One Management’s ripoff system with new uninteresting courses, and splat, fewer people are interested.

    Formula One cars use balloon tires (13 inch in front!) that not even an Impala rental would deign to wear. Michelin says it will only supply F1 tires in the future if they go low profile and have some relevance to car tires, which are much more advanced.

    But overseas, sedan car racing is highly popular. WTCC World Touring car championshship, and individual country TCC are held to good crowds. World Rally, WEC and so on do just fine.

    Asking North Americans if racing is relevant is a self-defeating question. There’s NASCAR, local stock-car racing and not much else bar some SCCA nutballs and local autocrosses plus LeMons, and the tech is generally ancient. Round here, decent road car racing just about stopped 25 years ago and only motorcycles are still relevant, beyond Saturday night beat-up stock cars. If there’s nothing decent to watch, there’s no incentive to do anything about it. Indycars bar the Indy 500 nobody cares about, ditto for the NASCAR Sports Cars – both attract about zero spectators.

    No vision, no hope and general apathy is the tale in North America. So it’s as good as irrelevant. Worldwide, F1 is in the doldrums due to the moneygrubbers and bad regulations, but that could easily change as the power players die off.

  • avatar

    I am kinda with the author and most commenters.

    F1 racing is boring since the cars can’t pass each other during the actual race on most tracks. NASCAR is boring since it is SO obviously fixed (Dale, Jr. wins Daytona, really!). All kinds of low rent racing is cool and fun for the participants, but not much to watch.

    Human beings are so crazy they will race almost anything that moves, and I will pay to watch it. What we all need is another Bill France.

  • avatar

    If NASCAR was fixed, I don’t think Jimmie Johnson would have 6 championships to Dale Jr.’s zero. And Jeff Gordon would be winning races on his “farewell tour”.

  • avatar

    Technology has rocketed past what can be raced safely on the track.
    Now it’s all about keeping the cars slow enough to avoid kinetic maiming of spectators.
    Features that are superb improvements for road cars (ABS, trac control, stability, etc) are ruled out because they take too much of the human element away.
    So the days of the unlimited Can Am, 1000 hp F1 and Indy cars and awesome Bill from Dawsonville (212 at ‘Dega almost 30 yrs ago) are long gone.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Here is an interesting article in one of the Australian news outlets yesterday on the issues confronting F1.

    F1 is on the nose and I personally think V8 Supercars here will find it challenging in the future. I feel production cars are a must. I used to like the English Touring Car Series as well. Real driving.

    The link, it makes for some good reading.

  • avatar

    NASCAR is the worst example of racing improving anything.Toyota having to make a push rod engine just for this series.Carburated rear wheel drive cars having nothing in common with the real front drive street versions.F1 cars emulating endurance cars for one hour is another is another joke.

    • 0 avatar

      Toyota should use the pushrod tech to build future truck engines, theres much better economy, compactness, and value to come from pushrod V8s than there is from the quad cams. Though I doubt we’ll see that or the 9k RPM those OHV V8s are spinning.

  • avatar

    The ‘stock block’ formula would at least provide some relevance to a production car while allowing the manufacturer to develop components that could be beneficial to the finished product.

  • avatar

    Here’s a good litmus test… two articles both posted today on TTAC, and their reader involvement.

    2016 Scion iA Review With Video – 55 comments
    QOTD: Is motorsport still relevant? – 40 comments

    Since we all prefer talking about SCIONS than motorsports, our QOTD gets a resounding “No” from me.

    That’s depressing.

  • avatar

    Motorsports is relevant as a form of entertainment. As a benefit to manufacturers, NASCAR is pointless anymore. I suggest that it has little or no value in raising sales numbers. For example sales YTD for Impala SS, 1,534: Camry 215,816: Fusion 153,158. No benefit resulting with sales success at all. Chevrolet dominates NASCAR both in teams using that brand and number of wins. Toyota and Ford a much smaller number of teams and wins. There is little if any marketing tied into NASCAR competition. In fact, you could make is a spec series like IROC and sales numbers would not miss a beat. There is not even a remote connection to actual cars people drive so I think manufacturers are wasting money being involved, with NASCAR anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      “There is little if any marketing tied into NASCAR competition”

      Have you ever attended a Nascar race?
      Every one I’ve been to has a ton of marketing on site, most of it for pickup trucks.

    • 0 avatar

      The SS and impala are two totally different vehicles. The SS isn’t advertised and is minimally stocked. Manufacturers still get their logo on a car, as well as still build the engines in said cars. Though only Chevrolet actually gets to use research from street cars to build its engines and visa versa.

    • 0 avatar

      I should have stated what I meant more clearly. What I meant was that the manufacturers in NASCAR do little if any advertising when their “brand” wins. They must realize that there is little transfer from victory into increased sales. Yes I have been to many NASCAR races including Atlanta this past March.

  • avatar

    Does the Darpa Challenge series count? Depressing, but I think it’s way more relevant to automotive development and future cars than the other “races”.

  • avatar

    This is why I like rallying. You can take a stock car, put a roll cage in it (and some other saftey equipment with some gravel tires), and go race!

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    “I am completely at a loss to think of another sport that tests man and machine as much as motorsport.”

    Maybe you should check out a li’l ol’ bicycle race in France, currently underway. Not that race car drivers aren’t athletes, but as a pure test of man and machine, three weeks of riding 100+ miles per day through the Alps is about as big’a test as it gets.

    And as far as your question re motorsport relevancy: Depends. Which is pretty much what these QOTDs are designed to do — rile everyone up with their own version of Depends and make you a ClickMaster.

  • avatar

    lets not forget the FIA WRC. while i have to say that sadly is mostly irrelevant now. but subaru, mitubishi and ford gaves us some nice cars in the 2000. i always loved the fact the racing cars used the same production body and some even the same engine block.

  • avatar

    My favorite motorsport is still diesel drag racing – NDHRA.

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