New NASCAR Car Wars looming: Remember the Baby Grands? Ford pitching an updated X-Games version for NASCAR, with compacts. And Chevrolet may be game too. Here a Ford Focus paces the June Michigan race. (Photo: Autostock)
By Mike Mulhern
How much interest other car companies might have in any such NASCAR/X-Games venture is not clear.
Chevrolet racing boss Jim Campbell, who is using Sunday's Michigan 400 to promote GM's new small-car Sonic, as pace car, says he is "open" to using motorsports to push Chevrolet's new small car line. While Toyota and Honda made their names as purveyors of small cars, Ford and Chevrolet on the other hand have been more to the muscle-power side of the game, with powerful trucks like the F-150 and sporty cars like the Mustang, Corvette and Camaro.
NASCAR once had a four-cylinder national touring series, the Baby Grands, back in the 1970s, which proved highly popular, and then fairly inexpensive.
Precisely what Ford is proposing to NASCAR isn't clear.
But it could be something based on the World Rally Championship (WRC)
Or it could be related to a new Ford promotion, the Octane Academy, which is designed to appeal to the innate X-Gamer in all of us.
Maybe trick-and-fancy car tricks, with double front flips, double backflips, corkscrews.
Whatever is on the table, it's about hitting the younger demographic.
Ford's new 'Octane Academy' promotion is rather strange:
-- This is Ford's pitch: http://bit.ly/qrqkO8
-- And this is one of the 'audition submissions' http://bit.ly/pORWQq
The safety questions involved here would seem to be obvious.
The X-Games themselves – Travis Pastrana's claim to fame – are owned and run by Disney's ESPN, which is one of the two major TV powers broadcasting NASCAR's Sprint Cup races.
One thing is clear – small, economic cars may be the wave of the future….again.
And it's also clear that one of NASCAR's target demographics is the X-Gamer fan.