By on February 19, 2018

NASCAR Chevy Camaro

Yesterday, Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 in a snazzy new Chevy. For this race season, GM has selected the Camaro ZL1 nameplate to represent the brand in NASCAR.

Of course, it’s been ages since any stock car bore more than a passing resemblance to its showroom counterpart. After all, rear-drive V8 Toyota Camry sedans are in notably short supply at my local dealer. The scourge of stage racing and a dwindling fan base are topics best left to another day.

This brings us to our QOTD for today – does a manufacturer’s investment into racing have any bearing on your buying decisions?

The production Camaro ZL1 is a superb beast, cranking 650 horses out of its supercharged V8. Two-door, rear-drive, and with a trunkload of bad-ass, it cuts the proper figure for NASCAR in this author’s opinion. I may have been excited last year upon learning Chevy was bringing the Camaro name to Cup-level NASCAR, only to weep upon viewing the number selected for its blue flanks. #GoodOldDays

Ford inexplicably continues to field the Fusion in top-tier NASCAR while Dodge vacated the sport ages ago after winning the championship with Penske, an accomplishment for which Dodge was rewarded with The Captain taking his toys to the Blue Oval camp. Toyota, as mentioned, runs a Camry-stickered machine.

Plenty of racing exists outside of NASCAR, of course, with plenty of recognizable shapes appearing in the IMSA series here in America and in the superb Supercar Championship in Australia. Those efforts consume an increasing amount of my viewing time these days, given my disenchantment with NASCAR and its ridiculous stages. I prefer to watch the Daytona 500, not the Daytona 60/60/80, thank you very much.

Even with the more recognizable machines in other events, does racing hold any sway over your pursestrings? I do think the halcyon days of factory paint-n-wallpaper NASCAR specials are long gone. There is an argument to be made that racing dollars are a good investment from an R&D perspective, a view with which I tend to agree. How about you?

[Image: General Motors]

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49 Comments on “QOTD: Win on Sunday, Sell on What Day?...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…does a manufacturer’s investment into racing have any bearing on your buying decisions?”

    No.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    If I, as a car enthusiast, don’t care about nameplate racing, I can’t imagine how it influences people who couldn’t care less about cars and buy the automatic Corvette or 911 or M3 or whatever.

    “Well, I’ve test driven the Corvette and I really like it, fits like a glove, but that Porsche *DID* win LeMans this year so I should buy that instead.”

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Heeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllll no.

    Case in point, I’m a huge MotoGP fan. Current bike is a Kawasaki (pulled out of MotoGP years ago), and if I get another street bike it’s gonna be a Triumph (not sure they were ever in MotoGP to begin with).

    Sadly racing is less and less relevant to average people so this disconnect will continue to intensify.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    I do think racing can help improve the breed, so to speak, but who drives what and who wins has no impact at all. Not that it matters either, but I am a disenchanted NASCAR fan – the new format is totally lame. I miss Mark Martin.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    I have custom Richard Petty NASCAR license plates on my Charger, but’s that’s only because I’m old enough to remember him driving one. The current cars are so far removed from production vehicles it’s ridiculous. I usually buy Chrysler products, but not because of racing, yesterday’s or today’s.

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    If the real car actually had a greenhouse like the race car, they might actually sell a few more on Monday…and Tuesday…and Wednesday.

    Weird how the race care seems more usable than the real thing

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Yes, I totally imagine myself driving a Honda Super GT race car when I do the groceries in my Odyssey. Not really.

  • avatar
    dont.fit.in.cars

    No but it sure sells a lot of soap.

  • avatar
    eliandi

    Actually I do. I drive a Miata and the previous car was a MINI. Both Mazda and MINI are involved in grassroots racing from SCCA up to the Continental challenge (well Mazda is out of the Conti this year due to class changes). Both manufacturers give good contingency money for grassroots racers. Both cars, with little modification, are able to race, and I have run both in autocross, track days, and time trials.

    NASCAR, not so much.

  • avatar
    Redshift

    For me it has generally been the other way around.
    For example, as a die hard rotor head and sports car racing fan, I followed the Rolex series closely when Mazda was doing well in the Continental series and the RX8s were all over the GT class.
    I participated in some owner corrals and went to races at Daytona, Lime Rock and Watkins Glen and support my Mazdas. (All decent trips from Nova Scotia.)

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      I also think is more of a case what happens nowdays. Back in 2007, NASCAR introduced the fifth generation NASCAR car, called the Car of Tomorrow (CoT). It was larger to create greater crash zones, and in general was designed to be a safer car then the previous generation NASCAR racers; this was after the death of Richard Petty in 2001.

      But, the new design bore absolutely no resemblance to ANY sort of production car; they just had grill and headlight/tail light stickers stuck on the same shape to make it a “Ford Fusion”, “Toyota Camry”, etc. It was highly unpopular with fans, so in 2013 NASCAR modified the design further by going with bodies like the one above that are actually styled and somewhat shaped like production cars; though they still have to fit the standard one-size-fits-all NASCAR profile (hence the tall greenhouse.)

      Ford does have a “Mustang” in NASCAR, but it is not used in the Winston Cup Series. Ford first switched to the “catfish” Ford Taurus of 2000 when they retired the Thunderbird; they then switched to the Fusion when the Taurus was retired. I have no pretensions that is a real Ford Fusion racing around the track; but if you already like the Ford Fusion (and I do), it is entertaining to see a Fusion shaped car racing on the oval. I root for the teams driving the Fusions; even though they are not real Ford Fusions.

      Toyota likewise has no production two door sports car; hence the Camry. This is not a great picture, but in the right display case, the second car from the left is the CoT, the leftmost car is the styled Fusion of 2013 that replaced it.

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15237497614/in/datetaken/

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I saw richard petty on tv yesterday.

        Dale Earnhardt expired in 2001.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          You’re right; I’m sorry about that; but my point is the same.

          I don’t get into open wheel racing for the same reason; I admire the technology and the speeds attained; but it doesn’t have any connection to anything I see and drive besides a steering wheel and four wheels. I can get more into NASCAR; even though I know the shape is no more than skin deep. And interest in NASCAR bottomed out during the CoT period; I think at least in part because the cars didn’t even bear a passing resemblance to production cars.

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        CoT was a symptom of the larger problem: NASCAR became a silhouette series at the end of the ’80s. At the beginning of the decade, you could theoretically buy a Monte Carlo at the dealer, mod the hell out of it, and maybe win a race or three if you had enough money. For whatever reason, NASCAR didn’t want to race FWD fuel-injected V6 Tauruses and Luminas, so the link to “stock” cars died.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          NASCAR has been using fabricated tube frames and bodies since the late 60s and they stopped using factory front clips in the early 70s.

          From the 70s until 2003, the hood, roof, and decklid had to match the factory counterpart, but that was it.

          An 80s NASCAR Regal or 70s NASCAR Matador was far from a “stock” racer, but back then the series did put a priority on the fabrications better matching what was on the street.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          But there was two decades between when they became a silhouette series and when the CoT came out in 2007. I THINK NASCAR popularity was still high when the first Ford Taurus silhouette cars began racing in 2000; the CoT series went over so badly that they restyled them in 2013. I also can’t say how much having cars that more resemble stock cars again has helped since.

          (Fun factiod — the rear wheels on the NASCAR Ford Taurus were so far forward because they were built on the same chassis as the NASCAR Ford Thunderbird.)

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Uh no – though I do enjoy watching the highlights of MINI racing.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I think it has a big effect, but usually not “directly”. In other words, win on Sunday sell on Monday is not a big factor like it used to be back in the days of Yarborough, Allison, Plymouth Superbirds and only a few brands around. It still exists in Australia though.

    The indirect marketing is getting the name out there, TV nameplate views etc. Its just another marketing campaign. It however can have a reverse effect, specifically Toyota to expose their lack of performance cars/appliances.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    NASCAR is boring. I would rather see WRX ripping dirt roads. Will affect my decision – never. For others? – did you see all those SUVs out there? – that is your answer.

  • avatar
    WEGIV

    Answering a slightly more specific question – does NASCAR influence my buying decision, or is it in any way helpful from an R&D perspective? Not at all. It’s a spec race series using antiquated vehicle technology, and if people enjoy it more power to them, but that’s pretty much where it ends.
    But I think you can have a vastly different and more interesting discussion if you ask that question about other race series, such as IMSA, especially the non-prototype classes like GTD where they’re racing modified vehicles that are actually for sale. The Corvette racing program, for example, I think creates direct benefits to the car they actually sell from an R&D perspective. Even if the higher performance ones have moved to forced induction, the reliability, airflow, brakes and handling, etc are definitely influenced by what the factory teams learn at the track. Maybe less so with manufacturers that are running their halo cars since the market is so much smaller (e.g. Ford, Acura) but Porsche, Audi, BMW, Ferrari probably see some benefit in terms of both reinforcing their racing heritage and learning things that are applicable to their street cars.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I still enjoy watching some of the races, i try to catch the last 25 laps evert week as they seem to be the most exciting.

    I dont get too concerned with the manufacturer name on the hood.

    I do try to support those that sponsor the sport as best i can. Not that my buying power matters a lick in rhe grand scheme of things.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If we’re talking “showroom” type racing where actual “updated” parts broken on the track make it to “production cars”, there’s millions of viewers on race day and seen around the world, OK I”m listening.

    I can sort of understand entering factory sponsored Ford Raptors in The Baja 1000 and Paris to Dakar, but otherwise it doesn’t translate. Or it’s obnoxious advertising wraps, it’ll be a different car wrap next week, and or simple tax avoidance, better to flush it down the toilet than fork it over to uncle sam.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    The Daytona 500 sold out for the third straight year – after removing nearly 50,000 of its 150,000 seats as part of a larger renovation project.

    I don’t know how much further NASCAR viewership and attendance will decline. Nor do I know what effect making the race cars more STOCK would have.

    I just wish the stock cars were indeed stock (with all the necessary safety features), and that NASCAR genuinely worked towards making that so.

  • avatar

    Since we’re talking about the Daytona 500, it seems to me that Austin Dillon won by bumping Blaney out of his way, a move that would have gotten him a sitdown in any other racing series, not the trophy for the year’s biggest race.

    I’m sure that NASCAR is thrilled with the fact that Richard Childress’ grandson won their biggest race but there’s something about nepotism in racing that grates on me. I understand that if you’re the offspring of a good racer you have a leg up on competition becasue you have pro as a mentor. Jack Baruth may not be able to afford to buy his son the same kind of karting equipment and support that some of his competitors have, but John gets mentored by someone who has won races. My cousin is probably a better ophthalmologist for having been brought into the profession by his father, but my cousin still had to take the MCAT, get into a highly ranked med school, and graduate.

    Austin Dillon has not only had access to the best teachers, he’s had access to the best equipment and likely unlimited track time growing up.

    A greater test of Austin Dillon’s driving abilities would be to put him in a midfield car with a team with an average level of financial support.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      He actually spun Aric Aimirola on the last lap, if that’s the event you’re referring to. But yeah, that left a bad taste in my mouth.

      Dillon has been a middling driver since reaching the Cup circuit. This is only his second win and it was his 28th top ten in 160 starts. He would not have been in contention to win if the series stars hadn’t all been wrecked. He’d been running mid-pack all day.
      He and his brother Ty have not been impressive since getting into the top level (Ty is actually on a mid/lower-level team).

      Daytona and the other super speedways are always sort of a crap shoot – avoiding the wrecks and keeping it going straight will keep you near the front of the pack at the end. Also, at the speeds they are running and as close together as they get bunched, even the best drivers in the world fall victim to mistakes that can take out half the field or more. And on the last lap I can forgive not letting off the gas when someone blocked you as you approach quickly. So I’m not going to say anything too bad about the spin. I didn’t like it, but he was probably right that Aric would have done the same thing coming to the checkers.

      That said, I was really rooting for Airimola. He needs a big win like that as he likely won’t have another chance this year to win. It would have been the perfect storm for a driver like him or Bubba Wallace to pull off an upset victory.
      All the more perfect since the 10 car was Danica Patrick’s ride for the last couple years. How fitting that she never managed a top 5 in five full seasons with that team and their new driver comes out and gets a win in his very first race with them.

  • avatar
    relton

    Hudson dominated NASCAR from 51 through 54. Lot of good it did them, as sales declined every year until they went broke.

    Subsequently Mercury and Pontiac dominated NASCAR. That was followed by real domination by Plymouth. How are those guys doing?

    Racing can be great fun, and a real ego-stroker for the big guys, but good for business? Don’t make me laugh.

  • avatar
    SilverCoupe

    Well, my dad had a ’59 Olds Super 88, the car that Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500 with. I never asked him if that had influenced him any, but its not like he was a racing fan.

    I watch Formula 1 and tend to root for Hamilton, but I drive an Audi, not a Mercedes, so it does not influence me.

  • avatar
    Fred

    If you are selling me a sports/performance car of some kind, then yes you better be racing. Other wise I assume it’s just bs marketing.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    NASCAR = Sham cars, in a sham series, ruled over by sham officials. Only the most ignorant will believe their “Daytona” Or “Brickyard” edition resembles a NASCAR race-car. Yeah, they used to have to make 300 (or 500) vehicles to be a “stock car” and raced in NASCAR. Witness the Superbird and some aerocoupe Monte Carlos. The Indy 500 winner gets to keep the pacecar. The rest of the Indy 500 pacecars are sticker specials. Psst, don’t say that at Barrett-Jackson. Yeah, it affects marketing. Not in ways the car companies like.

  • avatar

    My interest started to fade when the cars AND the drivers became homogenized.

    If they went back and made the teams use real front and rear end clips it would at least make the cars recognizable.

    I was a Ford buyer for a long time because as a youth I was fascinated with the Le Mans victories and all things Shelby. Now, I’m a MOPAR guy because I can get a full sized sedan with 8 cylinders and RWD.

  • avatar
    notwhoithink

    For me it was less about “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” and more about “I’m a fan of particular racing series so i will support the companies that financially support it.” I was under no illusions that my Honda Civic wearing Firestone tires had anything in common with what was winning races in Champ Car, but if they supported my pastimes financially then i would buy their products, given a choice. Needed a new car stereo? Pioneer sponsored a car. Stopping for gas? Shell sponsored Bryan Herta’s ride. Had to choose between Walmart and Target? Well, Target sponsored two Ganassi cars.

    As to the more exotic brands, I’m sure that people buy Porsches for their racing pedigree, going back decades. It just isn’t the determining factor. And there is a reason that Ferrari sells more cars than Lamborghini, and that they are still more desirable. That comes down to racing heritage as well.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    With the recent success of Joe Gibbs racing team, I went down to my local Toyota dealer to buy a Camry. I said I wanted one just like in NASCAR, with the pushrod V-8, 4 speed manual, and rear drive, and they REFUSED to sell me a car!!! Son of bitch salesman told me if I wanted a Camry I had to get one with a frickin OHC 4 cylinder or V-6, automatic, and front drive. I told that idiot that if he didn’t want my business, that I knew the local Hudson dealer would, and I’m now eagerly awaiting delivery of my Hornet Coupe with Twin-H power.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    If the manufacturer backs it up with cars that actually reflect enthusiasm for racing and performance. I do like the fact that the 1UZFE engine in my Lexus is based on a racing engine design, complete with 6-bolt main bearing caps.

  • avatar

    NASCAR – now.

    Autocross, yes. I pay close attention to the cars that are winning at nationals, like the Camaro which dick-stomped everyone in 2.0T trim in D-Street and again in SS 1LE trim in Classic American Muscle.

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    I have to admit that the huge Camaro with the Lumina roof is SWEET!

    NASCAR is ridiculous

  • avatar
    joshhanson18

    As a racing fan, it absolutely matters. I was more of a NASCAR fan in 2012 than I am today, but when it was time to look for cars, I was leaning HEAVILY toward Toyota Camry (or Corolla) and Ford Fusion (or Focus). Being less of a NASCAR fan today, I have a very favorable view of Honda/Acura based entirely on what they’re doing in sports car racing and IndyCar.

    Big picture, racing fans want to support those who support racing. Of course I know that what I’m buying is not actually what’s on the track, but more that these brands deserve my support because they haven’t turned their back on racing.

  • avatar
    2000ChevyImpalaLS

    Ahh, you can set your watch by it. The start of every NASCAR season brings out the people who think they’re breaking news by saying the cars used in the series aren’t pure stock units straight off the assembly line. No kidding! They haven’t been for decades, although for much of the time they made some effort (beyond the egregious COT “sticker” era) to resemble showroom models. And they do run engines that are at least originally engineered by the manufacturers. You’re not telling any racing fan anything they don’t know. But obviously the OEMs see some value in participation, whatever it may be, or they wouldn’t do it. People have been trying to pronounce NASCAR dead for almost as long as I’ve been following it (more than 30 years). What they don’t tell you is that ALL forms of professional sports have seen declining attendance in recent years. The average seating capacity at a given track far exceeds what a football or baseball stadium can hold. What would be a packed house at a major league baseball game looks paltry at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

    Ever notice people mock NASCAR on the “they aren’t stock” point, but don’t even blink at the NHRA, as though that Funny Car Toyota, with its Hemi engine, is available at your local dealer.

    To answer the main question, no, I do not directly base my car buying decisions off of any form of motorsports, but I do appreciate their involvement. It’s fun. You should try having fun.

  • avatar

    As far a choosing a car because of NASCAR, that would be a no. However I am a big fan of Team Penske’s NASCAR team & support their sponsors. I use Shell gas, recently purchased tires from Discount Tire & prefer to shop at Auto Zone. I use Snap-on tools, drink Miller Lite & Coke, all sponsors of Penske. I let the sponsors know I support them for supporting Penske by using Twitter or e-mail. Having been involved in racing and depending on sponsorship myself, I know how important it is that the sponsors know their support of racing is worthwhile.


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