Daytona 500: Win On Sunday, Sell On Monday… Not So Much

If you’re looking forward to the Daytona 500 later today, then you’re clearly a Nascar fan. Because the race, as well as the entire Nascar series, still features cars that are nothing like what consumers drive or can buy in dealerships, making the series pretty much a moot point for car enthusiasts.

Ford, however, has made a big deal of its Nascar entry for the next season, which will look like the all-new 2013 Fusion. In fact, the body of the Sprint Cup racer was (supposedly) designed in the same studio by the same designers who created the same car that will be available in dealerships later this year. Too bad that the Nascar Fusion will haven no parts in common with its street cousin.

In its defense, Nascar has announced a thorough redesign of its vehicles for the 2013 racing season. But is that really the case? The cars will still have nothing in common with the vehicles rolling off production lines and available in dealerships to consumers. They will still be made using tube frames and hand-made V8s mated to four-speed transmissions. Steel body panels will overlay the framework painted to look like a Ford (or a Chevy) — a shame considering this from Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing: “Our research shows that one-third of potential car buyers are motor sport fans. Of those, the number one form of motor sport is Nascar. As the old adage goes: When we win on Sunday, we sell on Monday.”

So here’s our question: if Nascar is truly serious about making its race relevant to the car-buying public, why not use real cars rolling off the same production lines used to build vehicles you and I drive today? Can a Mustang, fitted with extra safety gear like a roll cage as well as weight-saving elements, not do what Nascar’s custom-made machines do today?

That’s the way it was in the 50s and 60s, when Chevys and Fords were taken off the same production line as the cars headed to dealers. They were tuned for increased safety before hitting the track; today, there’s nothing “stock” about a “stock car”. What a shame.

So, do you even care who wins tomorrow and will you remember that a Ford (or a Dodge, Chevy, or Toyota) won the race? Because since we can’t buy whatever won the race, we sure as heck don’t.

Motrolix Founder with a passion for global automotive business strategy.

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