Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Like Harry Hogge said, "There's nothing stock about a stock car."
You hear that from people all the time. “There’s nothing stock about a stock car.” “Why do they even bother to call them Fords and Chevys?” And on. And on.
Back in the early days of NASCAR, stock cars really were just that—stock. Competitors would often drive their race car to the track, participate in the event, and drive it to work the next day. The biggest modification may have been removing the hubcaps.
Assuming NASCAR could even regulate the technical aspects of a modern computer-controlled, technologically-advanced vehicle, it would be hard to imagine the close, fast racing we have today.
This might explain why a NASCAR stock car still has roots to the past.
People may wish stock cars were still factory fresh, but if they really long for the way things used to be, they should take a closer look at what’s actually on the track. Looking at it objectively, a Sprint Cup car may be the best-performing out-and-out muscle car ever made. Cranking out some 900-hp from a big V8 engine turning the back wheels, these monsters recall and improve upon everything people loved about even the best Hemi ‘Cuda or COPO Camaro from the glory days of the muscle car. A honkin’ four-barrel carburetor (soon to be converted to fuel injection under new NASCAR rules), a four-speed manual transmission, and a healthy appetite for high-octane leaded gasoline are about as retro as a car can get.
NASCAR’s current Sprint Cup car has taken some criticism because all the bodies look the same, and the high-narrow stance doesn’t scream “RACE CAR!” But they have taken some licks on the track that very well could have injured or killed drivers who instead walked away without a scratch. Sure, racing would be pretty boring if there was no chance that someone could hit the wall or take out another driver. No one likes to admit that they watch for the wrecks, but if the chance wasn’t there, the excitement level would go down significantly. But if drivers were regularly injured or killed as a result of these crashes, not only would people stop watching, but it would be irresponsible to even keep doing it. These safer cars, ugly or not, allow that high-level of excitement without the harsh consequences.
The slideshow below contains pictures of stock street vehicles from the factory, paired up with similar shots of a NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide, or Camping World Truck Series vehicle. Pictures provided by GM, Ford Chrysler, Toyota, and NASCAR Media. It’s an enjoyable comparison of just how un-stock a stock car really is, and why each type of vehicle is best suited for its intended duty.