For years, the saying “Win on Sunday - Sells on Monday” has been used when talking about auto manufactures and their cars running in NASCAR races. Today there are only three manufactures represented in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota.
To be honest, that saying may not pack the power that it once did. Brands moved away from vehicles geared towards consumers interested in muscle cars to cars build more for mainstream buyers. The Winged Plymouth Superbird, driven famously by Richard Petty, gave way to family rides such as the Ford Taurus and Focus to the Chevy SS and Toyota Camry.
Talk about wrapping your head around a concept! NASCAR Cup Series race fans have been force fed the idea that four door sedans were race cars. Yes, you can turn laps at Talladega then head over to the grocery store with a toddler strapped in a car seat in back.
Now, that concept is changing as Chevy is upping the brand battle against Ford and Toyota. Chevrolet has announced that the Camaro will return to Cup Series racing in 2018.
Not the First Time for Camaro
The testing ground for the Camaro making a return to Cup Series racing was set back in 2013. That was the season that the NASCAR Xfinity Series moved away from models in the Cup Series. Xfinity drivers started hitting the track in Chevy Camaros, Ford Mustangs, and Toyota… still running the Camry. And, even though Dodge has pulled all factor support, you can find Challengers entered in Xfinity and ARCA Racing Series events.
Legendary NASCAR driver, Tiny Lund, piloted his Chevy Camaro to Grand American Series victories in 1971. The car was active in the series from the late 60’s through early seventies during what some consider to be the heyday of America’s smaller muscle cars often termed “Pony Cars.”
Since the reappearance of the Camaro in the Xfinity Series, the car has captured almost fifty checkered flags, starting with Tony Stewart’s win at Daytona. That came during the 2013 Daytona Nationwide Series race – which later became the Xfinity Series.
The Cup Series Version
Just to be clear, the new 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will not rollout of a Chevy plant and end up turning laps when the season kicks off in February with the 2018 Daytona 500. The cars in NASCAR are stickered and styled to resemble the cars that manufactures are trying to excite the public about.
Each car in NASCAR, and ARCA Racing Series, are custom built specially designed race vehicles. There’s nothing “stock” about them. That was not true in the early years of the sport when drivers often drove their cars to the track, raced, and then hopefully drove them home.
Now the cars are built using specific standards mandated by NASCAR, which pertain to driver safety, fan safety, and competition. But, you can be assured that you’ll see plenty of the new consumer versions of the 2018 Camaro ZL1 decked out in racing colors, making appearances at tracks and dealerships throughout the country.
Cars You May Not Know Were In NASCAR
Sure, you probably knew that Dodge, Plymouth, Mercury, Oldsmobile and similar brands were represented in NASCAR. But, did you know about these?
- Volkswagen - In 1953, driver Dick Hagley, raced a VW Beetle at Langhorne Speedway in Pennsylvania. He finished 19th.
- Jaguar - Al Keller won NASCAR’s first official road race in a Jag at Linden Airport in Linden, New Jersey.
- Hudson – Yep, Doc Hudson – the character in the Disney “Cars” franchise is based on the Hudson’s history in NASCAR.
- Here’s a Few More: Citroens – made in France, Renault, Kaiser.
- And – the legendary Tucker Torpedo, also known as the Tucker 48, raced in NASCAR. Only around 50 Tucker Torpedoes were ever made. A movie about the car was released in 1988 with Jeff Bridges starring as Preston Tucker.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kent Whitaker, often called 'the Deck Chef,' is a sportswriter, culinary writer, and cookbook author with fourteen titles. He covers NASCAR, racing in general, Football, barbecue, grilling, and tailgating. Look for him, and his “Deck Chef” approved recipes, online!