No. 919
October 18, 2017
 

About The Autoextremist

@PeterMDeLorenzo

Author, commentator, influencer. The Consigliere. Minister of the High-Octane Truth. Editor-in-Chief of .

Peter DeLorenzo has been in and around the sport of racing since the age of ten. After a 22-year career in automotive marketing and advertising, where he worked on national campaigns as well as creating many motorsports campaigns for various clients, DeLorenzo established Autoextremist.com on June 1, 1999. Over the years DeLorenzo's commentaries on racing and the business of motorsports have resonated throughout the industry. Because of the burgeoning influence of those commentaries, DeLorenzo has directly consulted automotive clients on the fundamental direction and content of their motorsports programs. DeLorenzo is considered to be one of the most influential voices commenting on the sport today.

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Monday
Jan252010

FUMES

January 27, 2010

 

Charting a new course.

By Peter M. De Lorenzo

(Posted 1/26, 12:00PM, Part II of a Series) Detroit.
A couple of weeks ago I warned that one of the domestic manufacturers has had it up "to here" with what NASCAR has become and is on the verge of laying out for the powers that be in Daytona Beach just how far that displeasure has grown, to the point that business as usual - the obligatory NASCAR stance on just about everything - as well as NASCAR's go-along-to-get-along culture, would no longer be acceptable as far as this company was concerned.

On the eve of another 24 hours of Daytona, the winds of change are blowing into NASCAR-land via a series of meetings that will be taking place in Daytona Beach over the next few days - one will even take place before the start of the race on Saturday - and weeks to come. The subject? Making NASCAR relevant enough in order for two of the three Detroit manufacturers to consider continuing on with the "racertainment" series beyond the existing contracts.

Relevant. There's that word again, but what does it really mean? In this case it means the following crucial things to these manufacturers:

1. The use of technology. The fact that NASCAR still insists on using carburetors in this day and age will be a flat-out deal breaker to one of the domestic manufacturers involved. It's not only archaic, it's embarrassing that there's more technology in your average Ford Fusion or Chevy Malibu than can be found in any NASCAR-built "stock" car. NASCAR's usual way of "breaking-in" new technology is to embark on an excruciatingly slow process of introducing it into the sport - like they did with their change to unleaded fuel several years ago - which they studied for something like five years before finally making the switch. That simply won't cut it with the new players involved in this go-around. The manufacturers want fuel-injection on their race engines, and they're going to demand it before this season is over.

Not that "fuel-injection" should be the be-all and end-all of the technological discussion, by any means. As a matter of fact it's laughable that "fuel-injection" is even mentioned in the same breath as "technology," especially since it has been standard on virtually every production car and truck sold in this market for going on 25 years now. There will be other things on the table as well, including a reduction in engine size, an expanded use of electronics, changes in the in-pit refueling process and the use of alternative fuels, etc. Some of these will take longer to adapt, but one in particular - the adoption of some sort of alternative fuel - will be expected for the start of the 2011 season.

2. An immediate transformation in visual brand recognition. Ask anyone in Detroit with half-a-brain and a modicum of understanding of racing about NASCAR's "Car of Tomorrow" and you are likely to get a highly negative response. Even the old-school NASCAR loyalists embedded in the manufacturers' racing programs have grown tired of making excuses for the whole "CoT" exercise. Well, multiply that by about 1000 and you'll begin to understand just how negatively the dreaded "CoT" resonates with the new powers that be who will be calling the shots on their companies' NASCAR involvement. And NASCAR's stab at introducing faux "pony car" front clips to their Nationwide Series in 2010 - for four races - to pacify the manufacturers is viewed as a complete joke by these executives too. No, the time has come for NASCAR to admit that the "CoT" was an abject failure by every measure (except safety). It has turned off hard-core fans who formerly loved rooting for Ford, Chevy, Dodge or whatever - brands they could at least recognize on the track - and even more important, it has alienated the people who are now calling the shots on upwards of $150 million allocated to their companies' NASCAR budgets. These manufacturers have grown tired of the fact that in NASCAR's over-zealous mission to equalize everything, they have neutered the cars to the point of being unrecognizable.

The NASCAR brain trust better get ready, because there will be a new direction presented to them that could not only alter the look, feel and sound of NASCAR's future racing cars, but go a long way toward reviving fan and media interest in the sport. (I will reveal what that direction is exactly next week. Suffice to say there's a whole dimension to this that I can't reveal just yet.)

Three years ago this month I presented a game-changing speech to the movers and shakers of the racing world here in Detroit entitled "The Future of Racing." In it I expressed that racing needed a new idea.

Here's an excerpt from it:

"As much as I love the sport and as much as many people in this room love the sport, it’s clear that we can’t continue on the path we’ve been going. Racing has devolved into a constant battle of wrestling with technology in order to rein it in, so that it can be made to conform to a particular rules 'package' in order to keep speeds down to a target number.

Because of this, much of the 'reason for being' for racing, which always centered on the idea of 'improving the breed,' has been lost in this shuffle of constant corrective regulations, which inherently stunt creativity and dramatically limit innovation – essentially stifling the two essential elements that racing has always thrived on. And so, racing too often regresses into a form of 'racertainment' – an orchestrated dance that exists in a vacuum unto itself, one that isn’t focused on advancing the development of future technologies for our production automobiles as much as it exists for pure entertainment value.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the scintillating entertainment that a crackling good motor race can provide, I might add. But I think that as automobile manufacturers, it is time for you to reassess the reasons for your involvement in motorsport.

Are you there to win? Of course. At least I would hope so. If you aren’t, then something is critically wrong with the way you’re going about it. But are you actually learning anything while you’re doing it? Or are you merely advancing the status quo to meet the vagaries of the next rules package?

To me, this is the ultimate question before us today. And that is why I believe it is time to press the 'reset' button for racing, not only to usher in a new era of creativity and innovation to the sport, but also to enable racing to take its rightful place again as the principal conduit for the transference of advanced technologies and innovations directly to our future production vehicles.

In short, it is time for the Future of Racing."

Racing in this country is at a crucial juncture at this very moment. It is very possible that racing could take a severe turn downward in popularity or become marginalized if it doesn't take into account the future, or the fact that legions of fans have been turned-off by the woeful "spec" nature of what racing has devolved to.

It's time to chart a new course.

And the next few weeks will prove to be pivotal in getting the sport on the right path again.

Stay tuned.

 

Publisher's Note: As part of our continuing series celebrating the "Glory Days" of racing, we're proud to present another noteworthy image from the Ford Racing Archives. - PMD

(Courtesy of the Ford Racing Archives)
Daytona, Florida, 1995. The No. 70 Roush Racing "Nobody's Fool" Budweiser Ford Mustang driven by Tommy Kendall, Mark Martin, Mike Brockman and Paul Newman finished 3rd overall and 1st in the GTS-1 class in the Daytona 24 Hours. The car's number was for Newman's age at the time, he had turned 70 a few days before the race.

 

 

 

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