VINTAGE NASCAR AS SEEN BY THE BLUEBLOODS

We couldn’t be more stoked: historic stock car racers have finally infiltrated the green, green grass of the American concours circuit. Woke up to a post over on the Hemmings blog this morning by Kurt Ernst about the St. John’s Concours d’Elegance and its decision to feature a few great examples of perfectly restored NASCAR cars and we can hear Big Bill France chuckling and shaking his head all the way over to the great tire rack in the sky.

First it was the hot rods and customs showing up every two years at Pebble Beach and now this. And while we think it’s a strategically great idea to keep interest in the graying scene at concours all over the country, vintage stock cars on the grass brings up a few questions for us…

For instance, how is the provenance of an old stock car checked? Like any other racing machine, shit got changed. ALOT. Bodies, motors, rolling assemblies, paint…what started out as a Ford entry may have ended up as a Mercury by the end of its racing days. So where does a restoration project stop the chronological clock on a car? Its last iteration as it was found? Maybe. Or maybe its first skin on the track? Or its trim when it made some important contribution to the development of NASCAR? Maybe the answer is ‘yes’ to all of the above.

The Historic Stock Car Racing Series has been working on these kinds of questions long before the blue-jacket-n-straw-hat crowd started asking them and we’ll leave them to it. But the one thing we’d like to suggest is that the cutoff year for these restorations be somewhere around 1984.

See, just like any other form of racing, more money equals more risk equals less willingness to risk the money. And by the early Eighties, NASCAR was starting to reel from the effects of the cash rained down on it by sponsors big enough to really change the alchemy of the rowdiest form of motorsport ever to make it big. Once the domain of moonshiners and cowboys in helmets, NASCAR really started to lose its edge when it went stratospheric in the Nineties and the media coined a term for all the guys showing up to the track, blasting Garth Brooks from their new Scottsdales, in jean shorts and Mossy Oak-branded headsets with matching kidlets in tow: “NASCAR dads.” UGH – just stick a sharp corner of a foam Snickers-branded stadium butt-cozie in our eye.

Up till the early-to-mid Eighties, NASCAR was still exciting. A fight in the pits, beers in the over-the-wall gang, drivers you might actually talk to before a race, teams you’d see in the parking lot at the bar afterward…a real traveling band of incredibly talented gypsies just under the radar of national consciousness. And what we mean by that is a Bill Elliott hat only available for purchase at a truckstop, not a Jeff Gordon XXXL girls hoodie at fucking Walmart. See the difference?

So, we can’t wait to see some of these restored cars at concours all over the country. It’s an important movement in the development of the American auto industry and these old warriors deserve this kind of respect and adulation. And we’d love to hold a panel discussion at Pebble on the merits of preservation vs. restoration when it comes to this amazeballs development in the relevance of concours events.


pics courtesy Hemmings Daily

4 Responses to “VINTAGE NASCAR AS SEEN BY THE BLUEBLOODS”

  1. Robert M. says:

    Anything which comes into contact with that (concours) environment can only suffer…Sorry.

  2. Brian F says:

    About ten years ago Speed Channel broadcast vintage (late 60′s) Nascar Grand National series races (now Sprint Cup). I saw Mercury Comets (intermediate cars) racing full size, i.e. Galaxies and the such. I thought it was interesting because sometimes the top three spots would be 2-3 laps ahead of the field…

  3. econobiker says:

    “And what we mean by that is a Bill Elliott hat only available for purchase at a truckstop, not a Jeff Gordon XXXL girls hoodie at fucking Walmart. See the difference?”

    Best description ever of the change in orientation.

  4. Not to sniff your ass Stoner, but once the culture left, the cars didn’t mean shit. I’de say 84 is about right. Lucky for us, there’s still some dirt tracks open.

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