Category: stock car

First die-cast of 2020

Two of kiddo’s favorite movies are Stroker Ace and Days of Thunder. He’ll have these under the tree on Christmas morning 🙂

Dawsonville Pool Room. 6/14/19

Dawsonville, Ga


Congrats Chevy. You slapped a new nose on last year’s car and took off the gaudy faux door vents. Looks like they’ll slap a decal on the backseat window to at least give the impression that it is smaller. Maybe we can call this thing a Cuparo rather than Camaro? 

I’d like to see an overlay similar to the track to Showroom graphic from a few years back. There’s low level chat that Chevy sucked in ‘17 because they were throwing themselves into R&D with the new car and that they’ll mop the floor in ‘18. I seriously doubt it, but I’d like to be proven wrong. 

Don’t get me wrong, I think the finished product looks good, but it’s just more lipstick on a hog farm to be honest. If they want a sedan series as the top series, run the Taurus, Avalon, and Malibu. There’s nothing cooler to be found in a Fusion, Camry, or SS. If they want a coupe series, run the Mustang, a Solara replacement, and the Camaro. 

These full size race car versions of mid-size sedans and coupes is a joke. It is manufacturers and NASCAR dicking around and being lazy. Nothing will change unless folks call them out on it.

     If you’ve attended a Cup race firsthand, you know the familiar sound a tuned engine running at full song lap after lap. When your ear gets attuned to hearing a good engine, you know when a motor is going sour. If you’ve been to enough races over the years, you can fairly accurately predict how many laps an engine has remaining before it meets its maker. 

     I began attending Cup races in 1991. When the 1995 season rolled around, my ears were keen to the standard exhaust note of a modern Cup car. The combination of approach, passing, and decay sound like a long “yeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEOOOOOOoooooonnnnnnnggggggg” at larger tracks. By the mid-90s, Winston Cup cars were still gurgling and spitting like the race cars of old, but defending race champion Sterling Marlin showed up with a new Monte Carlo that sounded different. Not exactly Indy car, but not Cup either. Rather than the typical yeeEEOOoonngg, this car had a distinct “Wheeeeoosshh.” I couldn’t tell if the thing was running lean or what, but surely, it was going to blow any minute. But Sterling kept going and going and he pulled off a repeat win. He went on to win at Talladega later in the season too. 

     Some said it was Sterling’s growing skill as a racer. Some said it was Morgan-McClure’s special intake manifold design. Some said it was the new, streamlined Monte Carlo body. Others said it was engine builder Runt Pittman’s secret special sauce. It was a combination of all of the above. Innovation is the name of the game in sports. The most distinct innovation for MM in ‘95 was a trick exhaust. I’ve talked to several old timers who all said the same thing “you could shut your eyes and pick out Marlin’s car when he drove by.” I did this very thing atop a Busch promo truck atop the tunnel in Daytona’s turn 4. It wasn’t until years later that I went snooping on the internet to find the answer. The secret was a new exhaust called Boom Tubes. For the full story, hit this link:

     The other part of Morgan McClure’s plate racing success in the ‘90s is one of those NASCAR legends. Tony Glover had his own unique intake manifold design. While there’s no proof, there have been longtime murmurs in the garage that Tony Glover was drilling holes in the car’s intake manifold, melting silver Crayola crayons over the holes to fill them in, allowing the car to pass pre-race inspection. When the engine heated up after a few laps on track, the wax melted, allowing more air into the engine. The engines were oxygen starved due to restrictor plates, and a trick manifold gave an HP edge to the #4 car. The story gained steam, as Ryan Newman used the same trick to win a NASCAR modified race at New Hampshire a couple years ago (NASCAR stripped him of the win, by the way). After the ‘95 season, several teams petitioned for a uniform intake manifold design and GM rolled out a new power plant for their Cup teams. This left Morgan McClure in the dust, R&D speaking, and they were never able to bounce back.

Sterling Marlin is retired from Cup racing, Morgan McClure is long gone, but Boyd Butler is still out there making Boom Tubes and you can buy one for your daily driver


Eau Rouge

Part of the pageantry of Formula 1 I’ve always appreciated is the way tracks have their own personalities and named turns. This has not been lost over the decades, nor ignored by the on-TV product. It has been embraced as part of the lore of F1. NASCAR has not followed the lead on this. Since Fox came into the NASCAR game, TV coverage has turned to a style called “Hypertight Coverage.” Camera workers; using some fantastic equipment, zoom in as close as they can to the cars, thus filling your TV screen with sponsor logos. In catering to the sponsors, they’ve abandoned much of the ancillary on-track action. Go watch a race on youtube from 1993 or 1983. You’ll see wide, sweeping shots featuring the racing groove, grandstands, infield fans, and cars slicing and dicing all through the pack. Part of this was because technology at the time did not allow for tight zooms on the cars, and ESPN/TNN/CBS didn’t have 20 cameras stationed around the track. It is rare to consistently see these long shots and wide angles in modern coverage. In choosing hypertight coverage, TV production teams eliminated one of the most important characters in the story arc of a race: The Damn Race Track Itself. Drivers will tell you, they’re not only racing other cars, they’re racing the track, especially at a place like Darlington Raceway. The race track can be a driver’s nemesis. Look at Indy. Guys have returned for decades to defeat that track.It becomes an obsession. TV crews need to acknowledge this and discuss the track’s unique characteristics. They need to nurture that aspect of TV coverage. 

Even in the era of cookie-cutters, most tracks have distinct characteristics. Let’s look at Charlotte, Atlanta, and Texas. All are near identical tracks, save for minor metrics. In its early days, the dogleg at Texas could literally end your racing career. The racing line out of T4 and into T1 in comparison to the walls were brutal if you lost a tire. Meanwhile, Charlotte is less demanding in the dogleg and T1, allowing a long, fast, sweep, but be wary of the transition from T3 to T4 and exiting T4. That wall will eat you up. Conversely, Atlanta lets you just divebomb into T1, but the T2 wall is like a race car magnet. I’ve never wrestled anything as hard as I have a stock car in T2 at Atlanta (at only 160mph).  No matter what approach I took through T1 to T2, that wall summoned me lap after lap. Over in the T3-T4 transition, is an incomparable feeling when you plant a race car just above the yellow line and it Sticks. All. The. Way. Onto. The. Dogleg.

Daytona and Talladega have adopted some custom naming, but they named the dang straightaways? Come on y’all. I can only think of Pocono; a track derided by TV viewers for being “boring,” as the one unique speedway that has identifiable corner recognition. 

Side note: Do you know the story behind Pocono’s turns? 

Turn 1 was constructed to mimic Trenton Speedway’s classic Kidney Bean turn

Turn 2 mimics Indianapolis Speedway’s transitions. 

Turn 3 is modeled after the Milwaukee Mile’s flat turns.

Thankfully, we have Sonoma (which removed the famous Carousel from NASCAR competition, grrr), and Watkins Glen (which neglects the Boot from NASCAR competition, doubre-grrr). COME ON NASCAR. Don’t deny this rich asset to stock car racing’s history. Bring the tracks into the forefront again. Trouble selling tickets? Talk up the significance of these tracks and their history of their turns. Look at Eau Rouge up there. That turn is B E A U T I F U L. 


Make people make the track a destination again. Lord knows I HAD to go to Daytona after watching that smokey crash in Days of Thunder, and I did it at ages 10, 11, 12, and again at 35. I remember the feelings of anticipation when I made my first trek to Darlington. I walked pit road and sat at the far end of the pit wall watching a practice session and seeing teams making constant adjustments to get their cars safely around that stretched snake egg of a track. I make it a point to sit over turns as much as I can so I can study driver’s approach angles and watch their lines through and out of turns as their cars loosen or tighten during a long green flag run. Increasing cornering speeds over the last fifteen years has ruined some of this, thankfully NASCAR is FINALLY making some moves to bring corner speeds down (but not enough yet, gotta ditch the splitter, side skirts, get air under the car, slim up the tires). Baby steps….


→ Ryan Blaney, fourteenth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Winner – Pocono (june/2017)

There is nothing about this that wasn’t cool as hell.

I know there are rumors of Ryan Blaney driving a third Penske car, but I kinda hope he sticks with the Wood Brothers. They seem to be building something pretty special together.

@pywackett-barchetta, you can order this fantastic shirt here. I would’ve bought one last night, but I exceeded my weekend budget. I did grab one of their coozies, which I proclaim to be “The Alpha and Omega of Coozies.”