Can NASCAR Reclaim Cool Status? Road Testament

Uploaded by drive on 25.01.2012

MIKE SPINELLI: Welcome to Road Testament on Drive.
Today, I'm with J.F. Musial.
J.F. MUSIAL: Hi, Mike.
MIKE SPINELLI: And don't forget to follow us on Twitter
at @DriveTV, because we're going to be talking about
NASCAR, which is something I know you guys
either love or hate--
J.F. MUSIAL: Actually, they'd probably hate.
Knowing our audience, which is mostly
European-centric, some American--
MIKE SPINELLI: Elitists, they are elitists.
J.F. MUSIAL: --yeah, road racing for one.
They're probably going to hate this topic.
But it is a very interesting topic, and we can't keep
ignoring it.
We have to talk about it.
MIKE SPINELLI: And there is some big news today from Ford,
and so we're going to be talking about that.
J.F. MUSIAL: Well, there it is.
MIKE SPINELLI: Well there it is.
Let's just talk about it.
J.F. MUSIAL: Well we saw the Ford Fusion come out at
Detroit, which everyone was skeptical about.
I'm still--
it's a very cool design, I have--
MIKE SPINELLI: It's a very design forward design.
J.F. MUSIAL: Aston Martin-ish, kind of.
And so what they've done is they've brought that design to
their NASCAR vehicle.
Which, there it is.
J.F. MUSIAL: You know what, after--
you can say decades--
decades of stale looking, typical tube frame chassis,
this is a leap forward.
MIKE SPINELLI: That's exactly a leap forward.
J.F. MUSIAL: This is a very big leap forward for NASCAR.
MIKE SPINELLI: And that's what Ford's--
the whole point is in this.
Because of the Car of Tomorrow, which is the
standardized NASCAR construct for these cars, cars have
looked really similar.
We're going to get into that in a little bit.
But I just want to--
if we go to the side profile.
J.F. MUSIAL: Yeah.
MIKE SPINELLI: Look at this.
This is an actual--
I mean, have you seen?
J.F. MUSIAL: It's a design.
J.F. MUSIAL: Have you seen this kind of design in NASCAR,
the non-jelly bean?
And by the way, just as an aside, we're going to try not
to shake this thing, because apparently you guys hate when
we shake the screen.
But look at this.
I mean this is a really good looking--
I mean, first of all, there's no Fusion Coupe yet-- or
"Cou-pay," if you're in the UK.
J.F. MUSIAL: Though the one thing I hate is
that there's still--
you know what would transform NASCAR entirely?
J.F. MUSIAL: If they got rid of the sticker lights and they
actually were legitimate lights in there, it would
actually look more like a vehicle, more like a racecar.
One step at a time, though.
J.F. MUSIAL: The guys down in Daytona-- the Frances-- they
can only do--
But first I want to show you two cars that this reminds me
of, which is a good thing.
And so the first one is--
J.F. MUSIAL: Bad-ass?
You know who that is.
Vaughn Gittin Jr.'s RTR-X concept, pro-touring '69
Mustang that he did for the SEMA show a couple years ago.
J.F. MUSIAL: Very cool.
MIKE SPINELLI: Also, I don't know--
I found this years ago, and I love this thing.
It's a chopped '69 Camaro, you know, with the
crazy wing on the back.
I love that.
I don't know--
J.F. MUSIAL: I can see your comparison to the new Ford
Fusion NASCAR, actually.
J.F. MUSIAL: Look at that.
So those--
J.F. MUSIAL: Great.
MIKE SPINELLI: So I think it's a really good design.
I love the short fenders.
If you can't have them in real life-- because what car
company can do the really short fenders and still make
it side impact worthy?
So another thing Ford gets credit for on this is really
being the first one to break the design mold.
And that's something that the company--
as they launched this today, they announced that.
So Jamie Allison said, "We wanted Fusion to be the car
that helped return 'stock car' to NASCAR." And that's kind of
what they're doing.
That's their point.
J.F. MUSIAL: So they must have been thinking about this five
years down the road with the Fusion.
Right when the design concepts started coming out when they
were designing the car, they had to have
this in mind, right?
MIKE SPINELLI: I mean, yeah, you would think they did, and
because don't forget--
NASCAR they're the aerodynamicists.
J.F. MUSIAL: It's all about aerodynamics.
MIKE SPINELLI: That's 100% of the sport.
It seems like just making lefts and stuff, but
aerodynamics is a big part of it.
J.F. MUSIAL: There's only so much mechanical grip
you can have for--
However, as fans we want to look at the cars, and we have
to respond to the cars--
at least as would-be NASCAR fans, because a lot of NASCAR
fans are into the drivers and stuff, but that's a whole
NASCAR culture thing.
But if they want to get more people into it, they gotta--
J.F. MUSIAL: They have to look at the engineering side as
well as the driver's side.
The marketing, the gimmicks-- the part I hate--
is only sustaining them so far.
To bring NASCAR to a whole new level--
let's be frank here--
it's at the top of its game in the US, but to expand it
globally, you've got to to look at a different angle.
MIKE SPINELLI: And they need more cool cars.
So let's look back at--
J.F. MUSIAL: Because that's what people look at when they
look at the--
And let's see, I mean, 40 years ago, NASCAR race cars
looked a lot different.
Look at this.
Look at Don White's Daytona.
This is--
J.F. MUSIAL: Bad-ass.
MIKE SPINELLI: That's bad-ass.
And look, we'll get back to the Fusion--
J.F. MUSIAL: If you superimpose the Fusion on top
of that, it's very similar.
MIKE SPINELLI: You actually have a roof line and--
J.F. MUSIAL: An elongated roof line down the sloping back.
And this is totally hot.
Five years later, things changed a little bit.
J.F. MUSIAL: OK, what's next?
MIKE SPINELLI: And you've got the AMC Matador.
I had to grab that one.
But still, that looks like a car.
J.F. MUSIAL: Dragging its--
MIKE SPINELLI: Dragging something, yeah.
J.F. MUSIAL: Its exhaust on the ground--
MIKE SPINELLI: Dragging exhaust.
J.F. MUSIAL: That's how good the Matador was.
MIKE SPINELLI: Yeah, exactly.
It was an AMC, I mean what do you want?
But it still looked like the car.
It still looked like the AMC Matador.
Of course, Cale Yarborough in the--
J.F. MUSIAL: They should just stop NASCAR right there.
MIKE SPINELLI: --the Chevy Monte Carlo
of like, late '70s.
J.F. MUSIAL: Can you imagine if they were
still racing that today?
Screw F-1, I want to see that.
MIKE SPINELLI: But I mean look, it has the same roof
line as the car--
J.F. MUSIAL: It's a brick up front.
It's not even--
MIKE SPINELLI: Worst aerodynamics you can imagine.
J.F. MUSIAL: Yeah.
MIKE SPINELLI: But this was in the years before they started
wind tunnel testing everything.
But Cale Yarborough--
all right, so then like five years later another Monte
Carlo, mid-'80s, Bobby Allison's Monte Carlo.
J.F. MUSIAL: This is really where the step--
this is right at the point NASCAR kind of lost it in
terms of making it all very generic and looking--
MIKE SPINELLI: Well, car design in general.
I mean it kind of looks bad-ass now.
J.F. MUSIAL: Yeah.
MIKE SPINELLI: I mean with the chopped--
J.F. MUSIAL: Chopped back roof line, yeah.
It still looks cool, but we're getting into the point where
car design in general just was starting to falter.
And then we're getting a little bit more into wind
tunnel design.
J.F. MUSIAL: Which--
that was a progressive move forward for the
sport, we must admit.
It was when they started taking the cars and putting
them in the wind tunnels and actually doing the math of
these things and not just thinking the mechanics of it--
MIKE SPINELLI: This is when the eggheads took over.
J.F. MUSIAL: This is a successful part of NASCAR, and
it's not something we should ignore.
J.F. MUSIAL: Because it's a huge element of all racing,
and for them to adopt it when they did, it took NASCAR to
another level, which is what they needed to do.
But I think we're at a point where they need to take it to
another level.
Because, check this out.
I love this shot.
Now the amazing thing about this is that this is--
post-Car of Tomorrow--
this is the latest--
well, not the very latest, but this is what, the--
J.F. MUSIAL: This is the modern times of NASCAR where
you can't actually tell--
MIKE SPINELLI: Which one is the Toyota?
Don't look at the logos--
J.F. MUSIAL: They are all the same.
It is pathetic.
MIKE SPINELLI: They look exactly the same.
J.F. MUSIAL: Even back to the--
it's everything.
MIKE SPINELLI: Everything is exactly the same.
So we're at the point that--
J.F. MUSIAL: What benefit is this to a car manufacturer?
MIKE SPINELLI: I don't know, but you
better be careful, man.
You're shaking--
J.F. MUSIAL: Why put the--
I'm getting so frustrated with NASCAR.
Why have your badge up there if it doesn't--
MIKE SPINELLI: Well, that's the problem.
That's the problem they're running into, because OK, Car
of Tomorrow--
better for safety, probably better for fuel economy,
better for aerodynamics--
J.F. MUSIAL: All for safety, all for all those things, but
this has taken a whole step further where it's like, when
you look at the [INAUDIBLE]
Daytona this coming weekend, you see cars you can actually
go out and purchase--
J.F. MUSIAL: --sort of, in the show room, minus
the RX-8 tube frames.
The Porsches, the [INAUDIBLE] the R-8s--
this is the same level of that.
MIKE SPINELLI: It's about branding again.
J.F. MUSIAL: Race on Sunday, sell on Monday.
MIKE SPINELLI: Right, and when it comes to NASCAR, I think
that for a while they've been playing to their fan base.
And NASCAR fans--
let's put it this way--
the cars are part of the game now, but it's mostly about the
drivers for NASCAR fans.
They've got the drivers that they're into.
When you go to tailgate thing, it's about who it is that
they're rooting for.
J.F. MUSIAL: --what autograph you got, who you saw on the
paddock that day.
And this is the reason I actually do really despise the
sport in some moments, because it is taking motorsports away
from motorsports.
It has become a marketing exercise.
You look at Danica Patrick.
You look at those examples of--

it's not progressing anything.
It's not progressing any technology, it's not
progressing any vehicle manufacturers.
MIKE SPINELLI: Or at least it doesn't give the appearance of
that, though.
J.F. MUSIAL: It's coming down to a game.
It really is just a game of outdoing each other--
J.F. MUSIAL: --from a marketing standpoint.
MIKE SPINELLI: Well, it's gotten them
to a certain point.
But, like any other business--
or like sharks--
if they don't keep growing, they're going to die.
So unless they get you guys who are not really into NASCAR
at all-- because they only to turn left, they're not sports
cars, they seem retrograde in technology, and--
J.F. MUSIAL: That's our cue that we're
running out of time.
MIKE SPINELLI: Yeah, exactly.
So what do you guys think?
Are you into NASCAR?
Is the new Ford Focus--
new Ford Fusion, excuse me.
Again, problem with the Ford X.
J.F. MUSIAL: Jamie Allison is going to kill you.
MIKE SPINELLI: Jamie Allison is going to kill me.
Is that going to make you watch NASCAR more, or less?
Or, what do you think?
Go to @DriveTv, let us know, or leave a comment, obviously.
J.F. MUSIAL: It's got me to--
I'm going to watch the Daytona.
MIKE SPINELLI: I'm going to watch it now for a while.
We'll see how it goes.
Road Testament.
J.F. MUSIAL: Seacrest, out.