My problem with NASCAR.
I used to be a fan of NASCAR, when I was new to racing and didn't know any better. I entered the NASCAR scene during the 1992 season and I saw the exciting finish that lead to Alan Kulwicki winning his one and only championship. The first Polish driver to win the championship, the last driver/owner to win the championship for nearly 20 years and the first college graduate to win the championship. I was also there to see the news where his plane crashed.
I also saw the news that Davey Allison died in a helicopter crash, and the rest of the ups and downs of the 1993 season. But I stayed true to the sport until the 1999 season after that it was an off-and-on again affair. I was getting bored with it, left turn only, seldom big crashes (and that was getting boring). It was at this time I discovered the British Touring Car Championship and the American LeMans Championship, so my newest affair was with sports car racing. It made more sense to me, more stock like cars, short races but longer laps, but most of all, left and right turns.
I finally stopped watching NASCAR after the 2002 season, and I could barely hold on for the 2001 season. After the death of Dale Earnhardt at the season opener. Seeing his death made me realize how unsafe the sport actually was. I couldn't sit there and stomach it. Why can't they make it safer? They could take their cars and run them on road courses, they have two of them on the schedule, and most of their tracks have road courses built in. How hard is it really?
It wasn't until 2006 when I started reading a series of articles about the monopoly NASCAR (*ahem* the France family) had over everything. What bothered me the most were the deals with the International Speedway Corporation, who is headlined by France family members, and the races not ran at ISC racetracks are owned by Speedway Motorsports. While these companies probably ensure a continuity of services between all the tracks, the fact that the France family owns the tracks and the headlining sport at said tracks just screams unfair business practices.
But that is only part of my issue with NASCAR, another larger part has to do with the cars themselves. I followed development of the Car of the Future because I thought it would combine elements of race car development found throughout Europe, and bring fresh air the stale environment But the more I found out more as the car was developed, I saw that it was a case of, "more of the same". The car was made more safe for the driver, but a car going 210, with 30 other cars doing the same in Daytona, how safe is it really? I know risk is everywhere, but are they really doing all they can to mitigate the danger to the drivers? A restrictor plate only does so much.
Another section of gripe was that was no real difference between the manufacturers. It was 30-40 hunks of the same cut of cheese on the track. So you got 30-40 hunks of cheese doing 210 with the only difference being the front bumper (kind of). So no one who knew cars that well couldn't really tell the difference between a Toyota, a Ford, a Chevy and a Dodge. At least the 6th generation car fixed the similar body work issue.
But what would I do if I were in charge?
The track situation would be simple. Most would be reused, but use a road course configuration. Others would be replaced by either a dedicated road course, or a street course. Some tracks would have to spend a few dollars to modify their track to suit a road course, but it would still provide excitement. Also, you wouldn't have to worry about the big one like at the current configuration for Daytona and Talladega. A minus for people who like the big one, but who has watched a touring car race can tell you that the racing there is tighter and the crashes a little more intense.
So I went into GoogleEarth and took some tracks and locations and mapped out the road course via their path tool. Track lengths very from 1 mile all the way to 2.6 and even 3 miles. I would keep the short tracks as is, so Bristol, Martinsville, Dover would all stay the same.
I would ditch the current way cars are constructed, I would take construction of the chasis out of the hands of the teams and have a central firm do it, much like Scandinavian Touring Car Championship is doing for the 2013 season.
Keeping the chassis construction out of the teams would keep cost down; you would buy your chassis kit from an approved manufacturer who would build the spec chassis. If each team has the same chassis you would only have to worry about the body. And the body is where I'm torn. I would think coupes would be awesome, however I think sedans would be the better fit. NASCAR did switch to sedans a few years ago, and practically everyone in racing world (minus endurance and some sport car teams) use sedans. Should they completely be carbon fibre, or a mix with aluminium or regular composite work? I think a healthy mix of all should be enough, and they should resemble the production car bodies with actual working doors.
The engine would be based of a production block and heavily regulated. Limited to 500hp, fuel injected with a common mapping, 5.0 liter, and be V8. It is America, we need a big thirsty V8 in it, anything less would not be acceptable. I would think a KERS system should be in use, because why not have a hybrid. Hybrids are cool, right?
Finally, if you are unfamiliar with the STCC, DTM, the V8 Supercars and touring car racing as a whole, I suggest you read up about them and see how popular they really are. These cars look better than what NASCAR has to offer, the racing is a lot better than NASCAR has to offer, and the drivers are on par with what NASCAR has to offer. You will not be disappointed.