We'd love to wave a hand, and with that wave, make the subject of ''common templates'' subject, concept and intent go away for good.
It hasn't yet. A hot topic at the start of this season, the common templates, or ''aero-matching'' question has been muffled in blankets for discussion behind the scenes. NASCAR is keeping it simmering, apparently, on some burner or other.
It's a bad idea. Almost no one wants it. It's time for NASCAR to say formally, up front, that it has folded up this trial balloon and packed it in a hangar. But it hasn't, and I'm not sure why.
Common templates, aero-matching, or whatever you want to call it, is NASCAR's attempt to standardize the body shapes of all the competing manufacturers Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, and soon Dodge. Certain badge identification would be permitted, allowing manufacturers to decal what amounts to a ''NAS-car'' with decal cues.
The Ford Taurus that competes in NASCAR already is nothing like the street version of the car. Same goes for all the other models currently in the series. All use the same wheelbase, width, power-plant formula and tire size.
That's fine. Every racing series on earth sets those kinds of limits on what can compete, in the interest of competition.
Where it gets touchy is in the cars' bodies. Through the years, NASCAR has sought to control car shapes with templates, which are strips of aluminum cut to fit accepted shapes over and around the cars.
To a car builder, the optimum body is shaped by drag and downforce numbers, as seen through the lens of a wind tunnel. Although many templates already are close, make to make, aerodynamics is a game of millimeters, and out there somewhere is an ideal teardrop body style.
Dodge, due to debut next year, began designing its car around Taurus-like templates, although Dodge recently received new templates from NASCAR, about which not a lot is known. Common? We're not sure.
From NASCAR's view, the idea has some merits. With close, equal competition the stated goal, why NOT put everyone in the same kind of boat, then let the racers have at it? Second, why not put everyone at the same starting line, thus eliminating the bickering among the makes?
Let's say NASCAR requires the teams to use the NAS-car. Let's say NASCAR registers the car as proprietary. Let's say a team, in order to compete, then has to pay NASCAR a fee for the use of the trademarked NAS-car.
Let's say NASCAR also requires the manufacturers to pay money to NASCAR to attach a Chevrolet or Dodge or Ford badge to the car, much as contingency sponsors do. We hear NASCAR already is considering asking the makers to pay for the headlight and taillight decals currently on the cars.
Do we know all this for sure? Not yet. Is it far-fetched? Not if you've watched NASCAR in the past couple of years, as it drives into a corral everything it considers its own, then seeks to charge a rate for it.
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