(This is the last column I submitted to RaceChaserOnline. Just so you know.)
We all have our favorite afflictions. We all have our tics, our habits, our obnoxious obsessions. He also have our hobbies, our pastimes, and our – well – obnoxious obsessions. Sometimes our hobbies are afflicted by our obsessions, and sometimes our hobbies are our obsessions. I think that’s the difference between being a baseball fan and being a Boston Red Sox fan.
In racing, folks who wear a jacket that mimics the sponsor-saturated driving suit of their favorite racer are letting their obsessions get in the way of their hobby. So is the guy who hates some driver he doesn’t even know.
Either way, with love or hatred, they insist on taking too seriously what is after all, supposed to be about entertainment.
Then there are the folks who insist on constantly reinventing the wheels that drive their favorite racing. They’re the ones who whine about the need to lower expenses in some division and then whine even more when a crate motor is approved, or complain about wings on sprinters, or spec tires (or no spec tires) for late models, or the fact that streeters somewhere can run fabricated bodies that don’t even match what’s under them. Or, taking it a step further, complain simply that stock cars aren’t stock anymore.
You know. Guys like me.
If you’ve been reading my column here, you read recently where I speculated about the viability of a division of cars created from the same recipe that spawned the first racers called “modifieds.” I wondered then if a track could host a division and say essentially “anything goes,” as long as that anything came out of some vehicle manufactured for the street.
My mind raced with thoughts of builders cobbling together cars built on pickup-truck rails with pickup-truck rears and bodies peeled from two-door Civics and Corollas – or maybe a body from some old rotted-out Vega or Pinto.
You might recall I contacted Art Barry and Dave Berghman, two guys who have been around mods since they first sported that Vega and Pinto sheet-metal. They were not even interested enough in the idea to be unimpressed by it.
That never stops me. I continue to wonder, “What will be the future of the racing we call “stock car?” Will short-track racing become saturated with Civics and Corollas – entire Civics and Corollas – the likes of such cars becoming the main ingredient in the streeters of the future? Is the rear-wheel drive race car simply obsolete? What backyard low-buck creation will be the first step to stardom for the future aspirants to NASCAR, IndyCar or F-1?”
Will the pieces be there to build what you can’t afford to buy? Could someone create an extremely inexpensive chassis that would accept Honda or, say, Ford Focus power and maybe utilize suspension, wheels and other pieces from a donor car otherwise relegated to the crusher line? Maybe a little late-model lite with minimal need for high-buck parts?
See how easy it is for me to drift off into happy daydreams about cars that don’t exist? Like more inexpensive entry-level open wheelers. Think of those mini-supers that utilize a high-revving motorcycle motor to make their motive power, but rear-engined; a Formula for low-cost racing.
I could go on. A track building a fleet of identical street stocks and then renting them out on a race-by-race basis as a one-design series for would-be and casual racers. A division for old Cup cars that specifies crate motors and spec shocks and tires – tires with the stickiness of sewer-covers.
Did I tell you about my idea for a short-track event on the NASCAR Cup calendar with heats, a consi and a 50-lap feature? Maybe at Bristol? C’mon. You can’t tell me you don’t like that idea.
I recall one time when this process got particularly interesting. I was at NHIS (Yes, “I” then, not “M”) sharing a camper with my photographer-brother John and columnist- brother Paul and passing time by talking about nothing important. We got to thinking about divisions we’d like to see. I’m sure I started the conversation.
This was just after NASCAR had introduced its truck division. It was late, and we were bored. If pickups were acceptable race cars, then we figured just about anything could be.
“How ‘bout panel trucks,” I suggested. “Wouldn’t you pay to see a Snap-On truck out there trading paint with a UPS van or Safe-T- Clean truck?”
Face it. There would be a lot of paint there to trade.
As for pickups, I suggested that having pickup trucks race was pointless – unless they carried something.
“How about toolboxes?” said I. “Or whatever it is their sponsor sells?”
But it was John who had the best idea.
“They should make them tow boats.”
Wouldn’t that be great? You could wreck the car you’re trying to pass, or just wreck the boat.
John even had a name for his new series.
“They could call it ‘BASSCAR.’”
I’d pay to see that, too.
So. You got any suggestions?