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Why is Chevrolet still saying 'No!' to racing the new Camaro in NASCAR? Maybe blame it on President Obama?

  Does NASCAR need the Camaro more than Chevrolet needs NASCAR? What's the real story behind GM's 'No!' to NASCAR? (Photo: Chevrolet)

   By Mike Mulhern

   There's something fishy here, something very fishy.
   Make that more than fishy – call it suspicious.
   And it's all about the new Chevrolet Camaro.
   The Camaro that General Motors executives refuse – adamantly refuse – to put on NASCAR tracks in competition against Ford's new Mustang and the Dodge Charger.
   Chevy boss Brent Dewar just repeated that point again:
   Why is GM stonewalling on this issue?
   "To me it's a no-brainer, the Camaro against the Mustang in NASCAR, on the Nationwide series," one top Sprint Cup team manager says. "And a year ago when we all started on this deal, it was supposed to be the Camaro in Nationwide. That's exactly what we were working toward.
   "But then suddenly one day GM pulled the plug on it. And I don't know why. It doesn't make any sense.
   "Now I'm not a marketing guy, but if you're putting this new Camaro out on the street, why in the world aren't you racing it in NASCAR?
   "It makes no sense to me."

  Ford's Mustang is NASCAR-race-ready. So why is Chevrolet keeping its new Camaro just show-room stock? (Photo: Autostock)

   GM does plan to race the new Camaro in NASCAR's sports car series, the Grand Am tour, which allows much more leniency in body designs than NASCAR does on the Cup and Nationwide side.
   "Yeah," that GM team manager said somewhat cynically. "In a series that no one watches and no one attends…."
    GM at Talladega this week is to unveil its own new NASCAR Nationwide cars, with Impala decals and marketing, four team cars, which are apparently in the windtunnel Monday, and scheduled for Talladega testing the following Monday.
    Ford unveiled its new 2010 Nationwide Mustang last week at Jack Roush's, and Edsel Ford himself said he wants to see GM put its new Camaro out on the NASCAR track against it. In fact, Edsel Ford was enthusiastic about a Camaro-Mustang-Charger muscle-car series in NASCAR "like the old Trans-Am days."
   So why the 'no' from Chevrolet?
    "Actually the new GM Nationwide car could be turned into a Camaro very easily, with just a few tweaks to the nose and some other areas," the GM manager pointed.
   Well, maybe Chevrolet doesn't need NASCAR to help sell the Camaro.
   Consider this: September sales are in and the new Camaro continues outselling the new Mustang. That's four straight months now, unprecedented in the long-running Mustang-vs-Camaro street wars. (In September Chevy sold 7,961 Camaros; Ford sold 4,917 Mustangs.)
    Maybe NASCAR needs the Camaro in Nationwide more than Chevrolet needs the Camaro in Nationwide.
    Maybe that's good leverage for Chevy's Dewar.

  Okay, let me get this straight: Ford is pushing in-your-face high-performance, like this Carroll Shelby Mustang (with Shelby himself here, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway)...while Chevrolet and Toyota are pushing all this 'eco-friendly' green hybrid stuff? Just checking. Wonder which side will win? (Photo: Autostock)

  There is obviously more to the whole issue, of course, than what is being publicly said.
    First -- NASCAR racing in general isn't doing that well – sponsors are leaving, TV ratings are down, crowds are typically mediocre. And NASCAR officials, according to several stock car teams, would be amenable and accommodating to many of the things GM executives might want to see, in terms of design cues, in a Nationwide Camaro. After all, NASCAR has for some time been looking at the muscle-car, pony-car angle to help promote the Nationwide tour, and a Camaro-versus-Mustang promotion is a gimme.
   Except for GM's cold shoulder.
   Maybe NASCAR should ask a GM team – heck, a Ford team for that matter – to quietly build a prototype Nationwide Camaro that would meet those 'design cues' that GM execs keep talking about….a prototype just for study and review and consideration if nothing else.
  Anything to get General Motors and Dewar off dead-center in this thing.
  One possible issue here, which might be difficult to ferret out – NASCAR itself has copyrights on a lot of this stuff, body designs and template work. Perhaps GM doesn't want to yield any such legal rights to NASCAR.
   Or perhaps there is money involved in those copyright issues. If Ford wants to put 'Talladega' or 'Daytona' on the side of a high-performance version of its Mustang, does it have to pay a fee to NASCAR? Would GM too? Might that be a stumbling block?

  Well, to be fair, the new Camaro will be on some NASCAR tracks...as a pace car (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   No, says another top GM team official: Blame it on President Obama, and the federal bailout of General Motors.
    Part of the fallout from that bailout is apparently a strong reluctance on the part of GM executives to promote the Camaro in NASCAR because it might be seen as 'a gas guzzler.'
   So how would putting Impala decals and marketing on the GM Nationwide car for 2010 change the political dynamics there? Hard to understand. Particularly since the same GM NASCAR engine would be used in that race car, regardless of the decals on the nose.
   The current NASCAR racing 358 c.i. engine, be it Chevy, Ford, Dodge or Toyota, gets between 5 mpg and 7.5 mpg, depending on the track. Now that might sound like poor gas mileage…until you consider these engines are producing close to 900 horsepower and running 200 mph, at over 9,000 RPM.
   But then Chevrolet likes to boast, in street car marketing, that its Impala gets 29 mpg on the highway. (But then that's at about 60 mph, with a 214 c.i. V-6, making only 211 horsepower at 5800 RPM.)
  However the new Camaro boasts a 378 c.i. monster motor, with 426 horsepower....and how that gets its official 24 mpg is how? Coasting?
  So here's the delimma for General Motors: It's got this great new, spiffy, racey Camaro….and yet it's afraid to race it in NASCAR?
   What are the real behind-the-scenes politics at work here anyway?
   Curious. Very curious.

  Or maybe Chevy execs have something up their sleeves for NASCAR....like Danica Patrick? Or maybe even reviving the International Race of Champions, 12 racers in identically prepared Camaros? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


  Remember the Chevy IROC Camaros, and GM's NASCAR racing marketing campaigns? (Photo: GM)






NASCAR already has an IROC

NASCAR already has an IROC series, it's called the Sprint Cup Series except they have 43 identical cars rather than 12. PLEASE NASCAR, scrap the COT, let's get back to "run what you brung" racing instead of parity. The crowd at Martinsville was a joke. Heck Clay Campbell was even hawking tickets for $25 and couldn't draw a decent crowd. Martinsville's days are numbered the way I see it.

Mike Hogan
Danville, VA

ps- Keep up the great work Mike, you've got the best column in racing "hands down"!!

Mike, the brand or make of a

Mike, the brand or make of a car on the track in a NASCAR event stopped be a reason for following the sport about 15 or 20 years ago. Why would you think a Camaro / Mustang thing would jack up interest in a series that barely has a following today? Your throwing in mention of President Obama's name in the title of your article, then removing him as the cause for GM's not fielding the Camaro was a blatant move to get the 20% of the population who watch Fox "News" riled up. When you have a story with no news value, you have to spice it up to get it noticed. For the record, I clicked on it to determine what outright lie was being said about our President.

Good question Mike. Maybe

Good question Mike. Maybe it's because Chevy has basically locked up the Cup/Chase the past 4 maybe 5 years and the Manufacturers title since 2003...giving much needed PR to it's Impala brand. The Camaro like the Corvette can sell itself on looks and street performance. Ever seen anyone drag an Impala at stoplight?...lol

You must be kidding. The

You must be kidding. The Mustang COT looks like someone took the CUP COT and put some Mustang decals on it. GM is right to not allow the nice looking Camaro lines to be butchered by NASCAR'S Crap of Today.

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Maybe the mainstream media

Maybe the mainstream media and Nascar are all too full of themselves to truely listen to the fans. Sooner or later they will have too flat out ask the everyday fan what it will take to regain thier loyalty. I think they will be suprised to here that people just don't care for the new car and the rules that go along with it. Nascar heavies can get on TV and try and convince the fans that the racing is better than it has ever been, that it is cheaper for the owners, that it's safer, etc., but 'WE' are the people, the fans paying the price of admission. Listen for once to us, and 'WE' will tell you that 'WE' DON'T think the racing is better, that DON'T believe you when you say it's cheaper, and it's yet to be proven that it's that much safer. The only thing they can say is that there have been no high profile deaths since Dales. This fact may or may not be attributed to the new car. My Bristol ticket money is due, as well as spring Richmond. My wife goes to Daytona every-other year, this year being go year. This is several thousand dollars that I'm really having a hard time justifying. 'WE' just don't seem to have quite as good a time as 'WE' used to.

Ken Morris
Pittsburgh Pa.

Maybe GM, on the heels of a

Maybe GM, on the heels of a Gov. bailout doesn't want it's newly resurrected muscle car thumped out on the track in front of millions of potential customers by Ford..............

"You must be kidding. The

"You must be kidding. The Mustang COT looks like someone took the CUP COT and put some Mustang decals on it. GM is right to not allow the nice looking Camaro lines to be butchered by NASCAR'S Crap of Today."

Very much agreed! Since they posted the pics of the car a couple weeks ago, I went ahead and saved them to my BlackBerry so I can compare the lines to any 2010 'Stangs I've seen. So far, the 2010 Taurus is closer in profile shape!!!

As much as I would love to see a ponycar fight in NNS (much more Sprint Cup), it's still a welcome change and could benefit the entire sport as a whole. But if the finished product looks as bass-ackwards fugly as that car Roush-strosity then leave the Camaro out! Good choice on bringing the Camaro to Grand-Am though. Anything's better than seeing those jellybean Pontiac G6's buzzing around!

By the way, stop with this whole NASCA-ROC BS. "Run Whatcha Brung" results in either cars with 5 lap leads halfway thru or twisted templates, potato-wedge shaped rides and cars that REALLY don't look like they're "production-based". Splitter and spoiler aside, the current car looks a helluva lot closer to what's rolling off the assembly line than the T-Rex generation of cars ever did.

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