Manufacturers reportedly poured more than a half-billion dollars into the sport last year through factory and technical support to the teams, track support, vehicle programs and advertising. Yet NASCAR turned its back on Detroit with each generation of its race car as it morphed further away from what was on the showroom floor.
Yes, the new Sprint Cup car has proved to be safer. After the initial blow of scrapping entire fleets of the old car, the new model will be more cost efficient. The level of competition with the new car — at tracks other than intermediate and two-mile venues — has picked up considerably. But the majority of core NASCAR fans have never embraced this car. The evidence of their displeasure can be measured in the dramatic drop in attendance, souvenir sales and television ratings, all of which started long before the economy tanked. Now NASCAR is feeling a similar pain in its pocketbook. And the sanctioning body is responding by offering an olive branch in the form of a sleeker, sexy race car to entice the fans back to the stands.
A car, which will hopefully revive the “Win on Sunday, buy on Monday” mentality with fans so automakers and sponsors can continue to enjoy a return on investment in the sport. Rather than admitting their mistake in the Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR will begin filtering elements of the Nationwide cars back to the Cup model. The cockpit is expected to remain the same to maintain the integrity of the safer vehicle but the car will take on a sportier appearance.