GM will not conform to common
BRISTOL, Tenn. (Mar.
Lee Spencer, SpeedFX
It took General Motors two
years - and a lot of time and money -- to finally get its latest version of the Monte
Carlo approved for NASCAR competition. Initially, it was GM's intention to have the car
preview on the track for the 1999 Coca-Cola 600 and Dale Eanrhardt Jr.'s debut in the
Winston Cup Series. The back up plan was to show case the car's first run at The
Brickyard, but NASCAR said the car was still superior to existing model, which didn't fit
the parity plan.
The fans would have to wait to see the new Monte
Carlo race at the 2000 Daytona 500. Now, five races into the season, the teams and
manufacturers have been informed that a common template is on the way and the look of the
Chevrolets could change again.
"We could have common templates and keep our
identity," said Ken Van Every, Chevrolet Program Manager for the Winston Cup Series.
"However, our teams have just spent millions of dollars in development, so at this
time we're not prepared to do that and neither are our teams. We don't want it to be based
off one manufacturer's vehicle slips. So it would have to be a mix-match of stuff.
Everyone would have to start from ground zero."
When NASCAR was still in its infancy, Bill France Sr.
enticed representatives from the Motor City to utilize racing as a marketing tool.
Throughout the years the relationship has been beneficial to both sides, but slowly,
Detroit is losing the power it once maintained in Daytona as was evidenced under the
latest approval process.
"We were told to bring the car in a certain percentage
under what the current Monte Carlo was," Van Every said. "We did everything by
the book as far as NASCAR was concerned. If the car was approved the way we submitted it,
I don't think the problems at Daytona would have ever happened. But what are you going to
do, it's their show.
"I think the Taurus got out of hand, basically and
NASCAR let it. If you look at aerodynamics, everyone is similar, but Ford is a little
And if the cars lose their individuality, will NASCAR
continue to be a lucrative marketing tool for GM?
"Certainly keeping the brand identity for General
Motors is the most important thing," Van Every said. "We want the fans in the
stands to recognize the sheet metal, so they can say, 'hey that's a Monte Carlo and I have
an opportunity to buy it.'
"We'll fight this tooth and nail. We don't want the
sport to be generic. We think NASCAR can let everyone keep their identity and still be in
the ball park. We rely on our teams and drivers - and we think we have the best in the
world - to bring home championships not only for the drivers, but for the manufacturers
and that is our objective."
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