NASCAR, which was the fastest growing televised sport in America for some time, has been taking recent hits to its brand and popularity. A large part of the reason behind this is the staleness that has come around the vehicles used, specifically within the Sprint Cup Series, its premiere division of races. Dominated at the moment by modified Ford Fusion, Chevy Impalas, Toyota Camrys, and others, the premiere NASCAR division of racing is primed for a revitalizing youth movement. Currently, Ford and Dodge are running their Mustang and Challenger (respectively) at the NASCAR Nationwide Series, which is just one step below the Sprint Cup in terms of competitiveness. The appeal of seeing those much more exciting and consumer friendly vehicles has helped raise Nationwide Series awareness, and seems like it could be an ideal step for the Sprint Cup. Imagine, a return to the glory days of Pony car racing with a top-caliber professional racing event once again coming down to a Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger trading paint through the last few laps and battling for first place and bragging rights. The very promise of such is enough to get most race and automotive enthusiasts excited.
NASCAR has released that their product is growing stale and priming themselves for major changes to try and raise interest once again. Before making the switch to a new line of vehicles, a move that is currently projected to occur in 2013 (hopefully, that’s not too late for the Sport’s product), they are also changing some other, smaller aspects of the races. Doing away with crazy, and honestly fairly ugly, front splitter designs is a first and very obvious step. The splitters, which are less than affectionately known as cow-catcher splitters, are a general eyesore. NASCAR is also returning to traditional blade spoilers, which are more attractive and hearken back to the greater days of racing past than their current brethren. Of course, these changes are not enough, and the switch to the glorified pony cars of today may not cut it either. NASCAR gained its popularity on a sort of “dog eat dog” mentality that was highlighted by crazy characters such as Earnhardt Sr. and his racing contemporaries. The inclusion of the classic Camaro/Mustang/Challenger rivalry will certainly help provide a greater sense of excitement, (as few people care about a street race between a Camry and a Fusion, why would they care about the two doing battle on a track?!) and provide the sport with a greater, more youthful sense. The prospect of highlighting these Pony cars on some of motorsports grandest stages is also very exciting to the manufacturers, which is undoubtedly why Ford and Dodge have made strides to do so in the Nationwide series in recent months. Once Chevrolet includes the Camaro, a move which appears to be an almost guarantee at this point, American Motorsports should have a little more excitement to them, once again. Here’s to hoping they can just get everything else right, around these vehicles!