With Americans backing away from passenger sedans to slide into more pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, NASCAR would seem to need a little update, since its top two racing series have involved hopped-up versions of passenger cars for decades.
In 1996, NASCAR did introduce pickup-truck racing, which routinely draws higher reviews from race fans. And next year, its top series will include takeoffs of the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, which are sports cars more than passenger cars. Smart marketing move for Ford and Chevy.
But what about NASCAR racing SUVs? It has been brought up. Why not race cars that potential customers would be interested in? “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” is a NASCAR slogan that is as old as the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, the cradle of stock-car racing.
Then you really start thinking about it, and SUV racing might not be such a great idea. People don’t tend to race SUVs in real life — unless they are racing, say, for an open parking spot at the mall with, of course, their turn signals on. There are, of course, no turn signals in NASCAR. SUVs are dependable, but not exactly sexy.
Here are 19 other reasons why it would not be such a great idea for NASCAR to pursue SUV racing.
All tracks would need to be equipped immediately with a drive-through Starbucks.
Pit-stall spaces are way too big. SUV drivers prefer compact-car-only spaces.
No back seats in NASCAR mean drivers could not be distracted by reaching back to break up scraps between siblings.
Gear-shift panels would need to be equipped with cup holders in which to jam their Super Big Gulps — but how would the drivers drink them?
No good places on the dashboards to mount mandatory GPS devices, even though the SUVs would run in circles.
SUV racers would have to wear helmets. That would be no good. They need to be able to cradle cell phones to their ears so they could call their spouses every five minutes with errand updates.
Race cars are clean. So no fuzzy, half-sticky, half-eaten candy would be rolling around on the floors of these SUVs, or soccer balls behind the back seat.
The overhead DVD players that would play the same episode of “SpongeBob Square Pants” would limit visibility.
There are no doors in NASCAR racing. Drivers would need stepladders, or would need to jump, to get in. Getting out would be hazardous because of the possibility of broken ankles.
Since every SUV looks more or less the same, there would be massive confusion among drivers climbing into the right ones before a race.
The bumping that would go during races would set off those deafening car alarms.
And how would drivers share insurance information after those fender-benders?
Family dogs hanging out rear windows would seriously affect aerodynamics.
Sponsor decals that would need to cover the SUVs would severely limit open spaces for “My child is in the Elementary School Honor Roll!” bumper stickers.
Likewise, there is little free space on rear windows for stickers where drivers just went on their vacations, or for “State U. MOM or DAD” decals.
Hanging dry cleaning on the little hook above the rear door would surely cause problems.
Drivers would have to talk to their crew chiefs over radios instead of being distracted by classic rock, kids tunes or political shows (red or blue) on XM Sirius Radio.
Racing SUVs would be too hot for seat warmers, although individual climate control might be welcomed by drivers.