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Random Lugnuts: Desperate Times for NASCAR

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR, Dodge, Hyundai What is Random Lugnuts?  It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan.  The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop:  you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page.

Random Lugnuts: Desperate Times for NASCAR

Bill Crittenden
April 1, 2009

With President Barack Obama's administration now dictating plans to General Motors and Chrysler, it's expected any time now that the government will question the two automakers' returns on investments in motorsports.  Anyone who remembers fateful day of June 6, 1957, when the Automobile Manufacturers Association banned factory involvement in racing over safety concerns has got to be nervous that another similar day is coming soon when the federal government will force a stop to the racing programs of the two manufacturers it has money in right now.

NASCAR is looking out for its future (when hasn't it?), and in trying to keep the Sprint Cup Series from becoming a two-manufacturer race between Ford and Toyota they have reportedly been looking for a new manufacturer to join the series.  However, with money tight all across the industry, no one is really willing to front the money to develop an entirely new NASCAR race package.

One manufacturer, however, might not have to.

Dodge hasn't had the best success in NASCAR lately, and they're looking to offload the company's valuable intellectual property (namely, their NASCAR engine designs) while it still has some value, and rumors are they are close to reaching a deal with Hyundai to sell their stock car racing program to the South Korean automaker and convert the current Cup-spec Dodges into Hyundai Sonatas.  Nothing official has been announced yet because the deal is still awaiting NASCAR's approval for the new manufacturer and deals with a pair of prominent team owners.

The deal will hopefully be approved by NASCAR because of the two companies' history together - their common dealing with Mitsubishi in the 1990's makes them cousins of a sort - and because it would bring needed money to multiple NASCAR teams financially suffering as of late.  The deal also prevents the truckless Hyundai from having to come up through the Camping World Series, something the Dodge and Toyota both had to do before racing in the Cup Series.  Using a proven package with at least one currently winning team minimizes the potential for the type of embarrassment Toyota experienced their first year in Cup racing.

Aside from NASCAR's approval the deal reportedly hinges on two teams (Penske and Petty, of course) converting from the Dodge bodies to the Hyundai Sonata bodies, as Hyundai doesn't want to pay money for the engine and not have any of the top teams running it.  With General Motors under the same government scrutiny, and Ford under financial pressures of its own, only Toyota seems to stand in the way of seeing Kurt Busch's Blue Deuce and the legendary Petty 43 as Hyundais.

And on that note, I'd like to end with one final thought: HAPPY APRIL FOOL'S DAY!!!

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