Car of Tomorrow debuts at Thunder ValleyWritten by Dave Woolford | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s today, which means that NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow (COT), which in some aspects resembles the Car of Yesteryear (COY), has become the Car of the Present (COP).
And if Bristol Motor Speedway has anything to say about it, the COT might become DOA.
Breaking in the new Car of Tomorrow this weekend at Bristol is like introducing Waterford crystal at a tractor pull.
Bristol is a very small, one-half- mile bowl where you pour in 43 cars, stir in some resentment, enragement and over-aggression and see who eventually floats to the top. The car with the fewest dents, dings and scratches, driven by the driver with the best disposition and the crew with the most duct tape, usually wins.
Used parts had better not be in short supply. That all said, NASCAR has chosen Bristol as the first of 16 venues this season to campaign its new car that every driver will eventually be maneuvering by the end of next season, according to the updated timeline.
It will be sort of a one-template-fits-all vehicle, even though Ford, Dodge, Chevy and Toyota, all working with a blueprint given to them by NASCAR, will flaunt their brands. Company logos will be pasted in the most viewer-friendly sightlines. That’s so race car fans can still identify with what they have parked in their own garages, minus a few add-ons.
The COT is supposed to be safer, slower, eventually much more economical and more competitive. It will supposedly make restrictor plates obsolete.
It also has a lot of sex appeal, if you’re into boxcars. Race crews are digging out their paperwork from the 1990s and even 1980s to find set-up specifications that can be applied to the so-called futuristic Car of Tomorrow.
And talk about, “On a wing and a prayer.” These new symbols of stock car racing have a rear wing. Imagine a wing at Bristol. Can you say “debris?”
The COT will also sit a couple of inches higher (to clear new-fangled debris?) and the driver will be more in the center of the car, making negative sign language more difficult.
These vehicles aren’t something fans will quickly take under their respective wings with a great sense of passion, especially when their heroes, such as Tony Stewart, call the new creations, “flying bricks.”
Tony, tell us how you really feel. “It’s a basket of junk that drives like an old, green Oldsmobile station wagon with the wood panel trim on the sides.”
You forgot the luggage rack, Tony.It’s definitely going to take some getting used to. That’s why the four-hour traffic jam called Bristol, surrounded by 160,000 frothing fans, seems such an unlikely place to set up a welcome wagon for a new car. A big, wide-open venue such as the two-mile Michigan International Speedway could more easily veil the zits, cover the stains and camouflage the insufficiencies.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., like Stewart and other drivers, harbors enough trepidation with Bristol just being Bristol. Now they have to negotiate all of its quirky nuances in a new vehicle, even though they all tested at Bristol recently with varying degrees of success.
“I’m not sure anyone is looking forward to Bristol,” Earnhardt junior admitted earlier this week. “The number of unknowns is through the roof with the Car of Tomorrow. You can’t go anywhere or make a move without running into something or someone.”
That would be very abrasive to wood panel trim.