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Sometimes it is hard to pull the blinders off and realize that not everyone views things the same way as you do, or the same way that your part of the country does. This is, and always will be, a Detroit based column that looks at the world of NASCAR style auto racing.
For those of you who don’t live in Detroit, this place is a whole lot different than the rest of the country. Here we don’t go to church in buildings made of brick and stone, Detroiters go to church in heavy metal machinery fine tuned by the folks that occupy the buildings that dominate the region of Detroit’s skyline. In Detroit your car company is your religion.
A Detroit NASCAR fan may root for the blue oval brigade of Ford Racing, or the local cat in the hat Jack Roush, or they may root for the red Chevy bow tie and the California kids of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. If we traveled a little north of Detroit proper we may find a fed Dodge fans supporting the likes of Kasey Kahne, or Kurt Busch. However it is pretty unlikely that we will find many Toyota fans here in the city that built the American car companies.
With all of that being said we are in a era of NASCAR where common bodies, common templates, and aggressive rules packages take away the stylistic differences between the cars that race 36 weekends a year. In a lot of ways these common templates have robbed some NASCAR fans of part of their identities as fans of Ford, Chevy, Dodge, or Toyota.
This isn’t fully on NASCAR either.
Also gone are the day of the Ford and Chevy sponsored cars. Gone are the GM Goodwrench sponsors, the Ford Credit sponsor, and for all practical purposes the Motor Craft, AC Delco, and Mopar performance parts sponsorships. In a very real way the American car manufactures have been slowly deleted from the sport by NASCAR rules, and economic factors.
More than that though the manufacturer competition in NASCAR has become much diluted. In 2009 we have one Mark Martin once the poster boy for Ford winning four races in a Chevy. We have Tony Stewart with one of his 35 wins in a Toyota. Even Chevy’s poster boy of old, Dale Earnhardt Sr., collected three of his career wins in a Ford. The King of NASCAR, Richard Petty, drove and won races in makes from all three Big Three American car companies and may take his current team over to Toyota.
Think about it Joe Gibbs started off as a Chevy team, moved to Pontiac, then back to Chevy, and finally to Toyota. Dale Jarrett who was once sponsored by the Ford Motor Company left to drive a Toyota, Kurt Busch won a championship in a Ford and left to go race in a Dodge.
The point to all of this is car owners must go where the money and support are, and if that means switching manufacturers that that is what it means, the rest of the country takes it in stride as a calculated business move, but for those of us in Detroit we always end up feeling a little betrayed when one of our guys goes to drive for one of the other Detroit car companies.
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