For those who have been following my articles for a while, you will know that I am a big fan of stock car racing. The sport allows us to travel back in time to a simpler, less-corrupted era, when men were men, NASCAR was King, and life was good. Now, a lot of people will tell you that the charm of watching stock cars race has more to do with the drivers than the cars themselves, but I beg to differ. Sure, it’s true that the drivers are usually cool and collected in the middle of a roaring crowd, but it is the other vehicles that bring a smile to my face. Specifically, the stock cars themselves, and not just because they are there to make me laugh. It’s also because I can visualize what each seat looks like behind the driver’s back. This is the type of information that can be provided by a stock car blog, and it is something that fans of the sport have been wanting to know for a long time.
The Current State Of Affairs
It is fair to say that we are living in exciting times. Not only has the stock car been restored to its former glory, but it has also been modernized and innovated to make it faster and more efficient. While it is nice to see the sport grow and evolve, it also makes me want to take a trip down memory lane. Fortunately, I have just the ticket to take us back to that place. As part of the 2017 NASCAR Grand Prix season, every team and driver will make a stop at the Texas Motor Speedway. For even more flavor, the entire event will be broadcasted live on television. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for people who love cars, especially old cars, and for those of us who love to watch them race.
The History Books Will Be Written
It was first established in a small town in northeast Texas in late 1995. The NASCAR Grand Prix initially started as a four-race series, with the inaugural race being held at the half-mile track. Since then, the series has grown to include an entire season. Although the series is open to any make and model vehicle, Toyotas and Hondas reign supreme. Teams from the Southeast have a distinct advantage, as the air down there is just thick with tarmac and asphalt. That definitely helps when it comes down to traction!
The Multi-Billion Dollar Industry
As I mentioned above, it’s not only the cars that make the sport worthwhile. For every driver that makes it to the big leagues, there are a lot of people involved in making it all happen. Those people involve sponsorships, tech-savvy fans, passionate drivers, and, of course, the vehicle manufacturers that make the cars. Take a look at the top tier of the NASCAR racing world, for example. The top 3 drivers in the standings earn a spot in the Nextel Cup, which is the equivalent of the Indianapolis 500. For the rest of the field, there is a division known as the minor leagues, which is made up of regional touring series. Even the masters of the asphalt, the legends, have to start from the bottom and work their way up. Without a doubt, stock car racing is a multi-billion-dollar industry. Teams such as Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing are household names, as are the drivers such as Stephenie Wonder and Danica Patrick. It would be an understatement to say that NASCAR is a big deal.
The Stadium Is Just A Small Part Of The Allure
While it is great that stock cars have returned to their heyday as far as popularity is concerned, it would be a grave mistake to think that the biggest draw to the sport is simply the vehicles themselves. The truth is, a whole universe of possibilities opens up when you throw a stock car on the track. Depending on how well you do, you can end up with a whole new set of fans, and that, my friends, is the true power of NASCAR. A lot of support staff will be working frantically behind the scenes to ensure that every driver follows the rules and doesn’t get too out of hand. On the other hand, the crew chief will be adjusting the engine map to optimize performance. A driver will be strategizing on the right blocks to put in his car and how to handle the transition from one gear to the next. It is, in a word, incredible.
An Education In Both Art And Science
Besides all of this action, NASCAR also provides us with a window into the world of science and technology. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Richard Petty, one of the greatest drivers of all time, set the standard for which others would strive to achieve. When it comes to mastering the art of driving a stock car, Richard’s unparalleled tenacity and success would suggest that it’s not a task that can be easily taught. After all, science has provided us with the capability to manufacture cars that can travel at breakneck speeds, and engineers have designed sophisticated traction systems that allow even the slightest degree of grip. The fact that these things can be combined is truly a tribute to human ingenuity.
Where Does All The Innovation Come From?
If you think that all of this technology comes from behind the scenes, you would be partially correct, but it also comes from the cars themselves. For decades, the manufacturers have tinkered with the designs of their vehicles, making them stronger, faster, and more resistant to mechanical breakdown. While it is great that these things are possible, it also means that each generation of cars requires a complete overhaul, putting a strain on the wallet of even the most ardent of NASCAR fans.
In 2007, a revolutionary change was made to the sport when Joe Hinckley, the president of Tri-Star Motorsports, came up with the idea of adding windscreens to the cars. This was something that had been considered unnecessary for years, but Joe had a different take on the matter. He felt that adding a windscreen could improve safety, especially for the drivers, who have to stare directly into the sun. This is one of the many reasons why I love stock car racing – it always makes me think outside the box.
What About The Design Of The Seats?
Now, here’s a question that probably matters more to me than it does to you. After all, I am the guy that has to sit in those seats, so it is only natural that I would want to know as much as possible about them. As you may have guessed, I love old cars. It comes from growing up in one of the greatest auto cities of all time, Detroit, where old things are just as cherished as new ones. Naturally, then, I would like to know as much about the design of the seats so that I can better appreciate the experience. To that end, let’s take a look. In the past, most of the vehicles used for stock car racing had bucket seats, and those seats were usually made of wood. Back in the day, wood was a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. These days, it is a different story, as hard plastics, leather, and metal are used to create comfortable and structurally-sound seats. Take a look at this 1991 Geo Prizm, for example; at first glance, you would never guess that this is how the owner spent his time in the car. But it is, as the seats are made of a high-quality material known as Memory Foam, which is essentially foam that remembers its shape. It is this material that makes it possible for the seat to mold to the shape of the driver. This helps prevent injuries, especially in cases where the driver overextends himself while driving. In these situations, Memory Foam helps cushion the blow, preventing both the driver and the spectator from suffering serious injury. Because of this, NASCAR decided that these types of seats would be allowed from this point forward.
There is a reason that the stock car continues to be popular today. Not only has the sport been around for a very long time and seen its share of cultural shift, but it is also a great combination of art and science. This is most apparent in the design of the cars themselves, which continue to innovate even today, decades after their introduction. Anyone who loves cars, especially old ones, should find joy in our hobby, as the design of the seats has also changed over the years to make the experience more comfortable for the driver and the spectator. As for me, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than by watching some of the best drivers in the world battle it out on some of the most iconic tracks in the country. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few tires to change and some engine maps to calibrate.