I’ve always preferred road racing to oval racing. When I was young I was a fan of Formula I and sports car racing. I really wanted one of those little British sports cars like the MG Midget. I got to test drive a Triumph Spitfire and I found out it was tiny, hardly any room for your feet and the pedals were minuscule. I was better off without it. I wound up with a Corvair and in spite of what Ralph Nader said I loved it.
Those were the days when there was factory sponsored (or supported) racing. Ford, Chevy, Pontiac, Chrysler were pumping money into racing. Thy had R&D departments, teams of engineers dedicated to developing innovations that would show up on the race track. There was an ongoing debate about the purpose of auto racing. Some thought it should serve some purpose other than just entertainment. Somewhere along the line that thinking changed.
NASCAR had a rule. The race cars were supposed to be street cars. In theory you could walk into a dealer and buy the car Fireball Roberts drove. Not likely. Stuff kept showing up at the track that had never been seen before. Junior Johnson for a time had a Chevy with what some called the mystery engine. Valve stems sticking up at all angles, strange new combustion chamber design. Straight from the factory, straight out of R&D. He would run off and hide from everybody. Till something broke.
Not like that today. NASCAR stifles innovation. The latest France family member to head up the organization has said that he doesn’t want engineers winning races. The cars are all alike by design. You can’t tell a Ford from a Chevy from a Toyota. Heck, there may be a Hyundia out there for all I know. The cars are all the same. I don’t know how much driving ability has to do with winning. It seems that the factor that separates winners from losers is how well the car is set up.
So when it comes down to it you know what NASCAR racing is a test of? It a test of Dealer Prep.