Race Weekend Central

Voices From the Cheap Seats: Penske to Ford? Whoopidy Dodgety Doo!

Well, I bet the dude in charge of making the Mayan calendar never saw THIS coming!

You’d think, by the length of the press releases and all the hub-bub on the net, that the announcement of the legendary Penske Racing organization switching to Ford cars for the 2013 season was akin to news of the world coming to an end. Really? C’mon people, get real!

Basically, and I’ve said this a thousand times over the years, there are two types of race fans. Those that cheer for the man and those that cheer for the car. Personally, Carl Edwards is my favorite. Before him it was Dale Jarrett. Also, personally, I absolutely DETEST Ford cars, with the exception of some ‘60s and ‘70s models.

The reason I have vowed that there never be another Ford titled to me in MY driveway is not because of some misguided hatred of ovals and a love of bowties, but simply because every one I have ever owned has caused me more misery, money and heartbreak than my ex-wife, daughters and current girlfriend combined!

Obviously since Edwards and Jarrett do and or did drive Fords, I am a fan of the man when it comes to NASCAR and not the car. Believe it or not, I sleep just fine at night and I have not had to pay some overpriced shrink one thin dime to get on with my daily life. Hopefully, with today’s announcement, those that are a fan of the CAR will find some way to go on living. Unfortunately for them, the days of those types of fans may (and ultimately should) be numbered!

No, no, no! Don’t go getting all bent out of shape on me … I’m not advocating a ‘cleansing of the NASCAR fan pool’ or anything like that. What I AM advocating is a healthy dose of NASCAR … especially TODAY’S NASCAR, reality.

The reality is that, as the press releases clearly indicate, racing teams change ‘manufacturers’ all the time. Some more than others, sure, but it happens all the time.

Remember a few years ago when, something like two weeks before the beginning of the season, Robby Gordon decided to switch makes? Ironically, if I recall correctly (and I may not be!) Robby was switching from Ford to Dodge. The long and short of it all was basically just an engine switch and a spiffy new set of decals.

Even more ironically if again, I recall correctly (and I could STILL not be!), he got into trouble from Dodge for putting the ‘new’ Dodge front end decal on his car before he was supposed to. Sure, Gordon’s outfit was nowhere near as big as Penske, but it was at that time, and still is, an excellent example of the reality of today’s NASCAR as we know it.

Here is another reality for you; If more people, or more importantly NASCAR, would pull their heads out of whatever they’re in, and see the sport for what it really is, or at least what the France family has brought it too, we all could finally get down to some serious racing. AND, more importantly, so NASCAR has always claimed, saving teams money. Here is what needs to happen;

First of all, people need to realize that NASCAR has ‘ruled’ the sport to death to the point that all the cars are equal anyway! People are always putting IROC racing down, but in all reality it is exactly what we have now … almost!

I say almost because we (the fan) just need to embrace it and insist that is exactly what NASCAR give us. Besides, some of the best races I have ever seen were IROC races, where all the cars were identical and the winning was left up to the talent of the driver. What if NASCAR worked like this (or a version thereof)?

One independent company builds racecars, to NASCAR’s exacting specs of course, and ONLY one company. NASCAR can mandate exactly how they want it, each and every one.

Lets say Rick Hendrick wants to own a race team. He hires who he wants to drive and he buys each racecar at a set price from said company for said race. He can opt to race engines, again, made from said company, made from Ford, Chevy, Dodge or Toyota parts, each accompanied with the right set of decals to go with it. NASCAR can control everything tech wise and all the cars would be equal.

Now, if Hendrick has good drivers and wins and is a good talker, he can still get sponsors to help foot the bill for the purchase of racecars, but that is all he has to do. The better the team does, the better the sponsor does, the more money they both make, and so on and so forth.

We wouldn’t have problems with cheating. Chad Knaus would have nothing to do other than to call the strategy from the pit box, as it should be!

With all the cars being equal, winning comes down to (mostly) driver talent. Danica Patrick wouldn’t have to wonder aloud to reporters why they have to describe her as ‘sexy’ when it comes to NASCAR racing. We (and she) could find out if say, ‘very talented’ or ‘great racer’ or ‘great wheelwoman’ was more apropos. As of now, if I were her, I’d be happy with ‘sexy’ (and even that is subject to debate).

Of course, the business model I have described above would have some bugs to iron out, as will any great idea before it is perfected. Personally, I’d bet that if all cars were truly equal in NASCAR as they were in IROC, the racing wouldn’t be that different. The cream always rises to the top, no matter if you’re wearing a blue oval cuff links or a bowtie.

NASCAR is almost there now. Might as well take it to the next level and find out who the best really is every year, not just who has the most money to throw around.

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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