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NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow

March 30th, 2007 by William

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This past weekend I had the chance to take in my first full NASCAR Nextel Cup race of the season (in between NCAA basketball), and it just so happens it was also the debut of the much anticipated “Car of Tomorrow”. Hearing the name “Car of Tomorrow” I expected to see a futuristic looking race car with updated suspension and lots of technological breakthroughs, but instead what I saw was a car that looked slightly more stock than the old NASCAR and sported a pronounced rear wing and front chin spoiler/air splitter. From what I’ve heard and read the “Car of Tomorrow” is was mostly modified with safety in mind. The car is less aerodynamic but has more down force, meaning lower speeds and more grip. I believe it is also slightly larger with a more central driver’s location providing better protection. During the race one of the commentators (Darrell Waltrip I believe) said that the car would be better named “the Car of Yesterday” as it reminded him of the golden age of NASCAR when the cars were closer to street vehicles.

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The legend, Darrell Waltrip

Ironically the online spoof newspaper The Onion wrote a piece in their latest edition about “the Car of Yesterday”, but I don’t think it is quite what Waltrip had in mind.

Here is an excerpt from the article:
CHARLOTTE, NC—Only days after its long-anticipated, much-criticized Car of Tomorrow debuted to overwhelmingly negative reviews at the Bristol Motor Speedway, NASCAR responded to the wishes of competitors and fans alike by introducing the stylishly retro, technologically retrograde NEXTEL Cup Car of Yesterday.
Enlarge Image NASCAR Introduces

“This is exactly what everyone from race teams to race fans wanted all along—a real American racecar,” said Robby Gordon, standing in front of the Jim Beam ‘77 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme he will drive for the rest of the season. “To hell with things like spoilers, adjustable suspensions, disc brakes, shoulder belts, all that junk. People want to see us racing the cars they drive every day, and anyone who’s seen the parking lot at a NASCAR race will tell you that’s what the Car of Yesterday gives them.”

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Check out the rest of the article here: The Onion
While The Onion can occasionally be to smart-ass for their own good, this article gave me a good chuckle, and it is nice to see them commenting on motor sports for a change. As for the actual car of tomorrow, the first race made it seem like there will be less carnage on the track with this new race car, which is a bad thing for most NASCAR fans. But safety is always good, and the race was still hotly contested, so hopefully the rest of the season will remain a closely fought contest.

-Bill Mertz

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