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March 9, 2008 . . . a date that will live in motorsports infamy.
March 9, 2008, is the date when Brian France’s plot to destroy American “stock car” racing and hand the cold, dead carcass over to the Japanese began to bear rotten fruit in the highest echelons of the sport.
March 9, 2008, is the day when the ersatz, “common-template” funnycar, powered by a never-production, never-sold-to-the-general public, purpose-engineered and built pushrod “Toyota” V8, garnered the first Sprint Cup win for the burgeoning, billions-of-Yen Toyota take-over of NASCAR.
Plenty of fans “dressed as empty seats” witnessed Kyle Busch -- possibly 2008's most unpopular non-Southerner to slide through a “common-template” window opening– and his traitorous teammate, scruffy Tony Stewart, wheel their hideous, Joe Gibbs “Toyota Camry [sic]” common-template funnycars to the top two spots at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in the 2008 Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Now it’s official.
There’s simply no reason for a red-blooded American who appreciates the storied traditions of Southern-style stock car racing to ever watch or attend a WWE -on-wheels NASCAR show ever again.
NASCAR has “jumped the shark” . . . and the shark is now a fine plate of overpriced sushi being served up in an air-conditioned luxury box to some golf-shirt wearing corporate hacks from Tokyo.
They might as well change the meaning of the NASCAR acronym to the Nippon Association of Schizoid Car Auto Racing.
Brian France -- who is quite possibly the best living argument for a 100% inheritance tax in America (perhaps second only to William Clay Ford, Jr.).-- has been trying for years to give NASCAR over to Toyota.
First, the moronic Brian France let Toyota make up a “clean sheet” pushrod NASCAR racing engine, learning from the best Ford Motor Company and others had taken years to develop.
Then the vapid Brian France allowed Toyota to become the dominant make in the Craftsman Truck Series, ruining whatever limited appeal that bogus “funnytruck” series ever had.
Then Brian-the-Buffoon countenanced Toyota’s concocting of a rear-wheel-drive, pushrod V8 powered “Toyota Camry” (that’s wholly unlike anything the Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, Ltd. and its successors ever sold to any consumer, anywhere, at any time, ever.)
Brian France, the latest patriarch of the dictatorial France family and the one who has killed or assisted in the killing many venerable Southern traditions, such as racing at the North Carolina Motor Speedway and on Labor Day in Darlington, South Carolina, at the Southern 500, as well as pushing full-throttle on the non-stock, “common-template” aesthetic abortion known as the “Car of Tomorrow,” apparently sees allowing huge superteams funded by millions and billions of dollars from Japan as the ultimate in progress for the formerly, all-American sport of “stock car” racing.
And the France family’s iron-handed monopoly on racing facilities that could theoretically support the birth of a new TRUE STOCK CAR series (i.e. racing of cars that the general public can actually purchase, just like when NASCAR began “strictly stock” competition 60 years ago), likely means that Brian France’s gift of the last major American motorsports series over to the Japanese will go mostly unabated.
(Note that already, due to Tony George’s idiotic Indy Racing League power grab, Indy/Champ Car racing is now exclusively powered by Honda).
The warning signs of the Toyota take-over have been gathering all season.
Toyota has dominated the lackluster warm-up days in the bush-league Nationwide Cup and the aforementioned Craftsman Truck mess. And “Shrub” Busch has been recklessly flinging around his horrendously ugly “common-template” “Toyota Camry [sic]” Sprint Cup funnycar like a crazed PCP addict.
(Of course, wild recklessness, along with a fair amount of fan hatred, is what many believe cost “Shrub” his ride with the Hendrick Chevrolet superteam)
And NASCAR tipped everyone to its growing fondness for all things Japanese when it heavily penalized the Roush-Fenway Ford team for a loose oil tank cover after Carl Edward’s win last week in Las Vegas, handing the season points lead over to a Toyota team for the first time ever.
Whether or not NASCAR gave Toyota and Gibbs “the Call” on March 9 will undoubtedly be the subject of debate for years. But from Speedzzter’s perspective, NASCAR has already given Toyota so many “calls” to bootstrap them to this point, that one more probably wasn’t necessary.
Of course, for traditionalists, the irony of Toyota’s “first big win” is that it was at Atlanta. Atlanta was the site of perhaps the greatest race in NASCAR history (and no, Dale Earnhardt didn’t win it).
The 1992 Hooters 500 probably was the pinnacle of the “modern era” of NASCAR, and likely for the foreseeable future.
In that storied race, owner-driver Alan Kulwicki took the NASCAR Winston Cup championship with his non-common-template Ford “Underbird” Thunderbird (which still featured a number of production-based body panels, an engine derived from parts Ford had at one time sold regular Joes in production cars, and had its drive wheels on the same end as the production Thunderbirds of the day).
Kulwicki battled Ford heros Bill Elliott (driving for Junior Johnson) and Davey Allison (driving for Holman-Moody alumnus Robert Yates) for the championship that day.
Also that day, the hated FoMoCo turncoat Jeff Gordon infamously started his first “Cup” race in a Hendrick Chevrolet and The King, Richard Pettydrove his last.
Petty, incidentally, drove Fords as a protest during the 1969 season and strongly lobbied hard for this boring, common-template mess decades later)
Kulwicki was the last owner-driver to win the championship.
Kulwicki was the last driver to win the championship who was not a member of a huge, factory-backed superteam.
And Kulwicki was the last driver to win a championship in a car that was not based (loosely) on a prosaic front-wheel-drive model converted to pushrod V8 power and rear-wheel-drive.
Of course, the old-fashioned, brutal oval layout that began in 1960 as Atlanta International Speedway and on which Kulwicki won the 1992 Winston Cup has now been turned into another bloated, boring, cookie-cutter “tri-oval.” (According to the Speedway’s website, “When the 1.5-mile track, then called Atlanta International Raceway, finally made its debut on July 31, 1960, it became the seventh superspeedway,a paved facility of one mile or more, to play host to a Cup race. Only three of the original seven; Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway and Lowe's (then Charlotte) Motor Speedway are still in operation.”)
The little-guy owner/driver teams are all gone as well.
And there’s probably not one OEM production part left in the repugnant common-template funnycars that Brian France claims are the “cars of tomorrow” today.
And now, in the daze of huge corporate dominance, massive superteams with obscene budgets, sagging attendance and flat television ratings, Brian France’s little gift to Toyota is the final insult to true stock car-loving traditionalists.
Also ironic is that Toyota's racing arm is known as Toyota Racing Development or TRD -- which is exactly what a Toyota winning a NASCAR race is: A TRD.
Perhaps the old fans who are watching the weeds grow at North Wilksboro and Rockingham and recalling the Old NASCAR are seeing a better show these days. At least they have their memories . . . .
The NASCAR we knew is dead. Absolutely dead.