Stock car racing was built by those trying to beat the system. Many of the early racers learned their make-your-car-go-faster tricks by trying to outrun the cops in the South and to run some moonshine and make a few bucks. They used the same tricks on their race cars on Sundays at rural dirt tracks for a few hundred dollars in prize money.
But NASCAR isn’t about a few bucks anymore. It’s a billion dollar industry, and every team spends millions on each of its cars. And those good old days of tweaking and tinkering for extra speed are hitting up against NASCAR rules that aim to curb cheating.
Crew chiefs, the men ultimately responsible for what goes into the race cars, constantly engage in a cat-and-mouse contest, trying to gain an advantage on their competitors.
So Michael Waltrip’s team paid when NASCAR found an illegal modification last Sunday.Two key crew members were kicked out and Waltrip was docked points and fined big bucks.
Inspectors found that Waltrip’s crew chief attempted to lighten the car by substituting aluminum Volkswagon tire valve caps for the required steel ones. “The steel ones weigh .0003 ounces each,” Waltrip explained. “…and the VW aluminum ones weigh .0001 ounces each. It would have given us a slight advantage!”
Jake Denton. a NASCAR inspector explained that every car that competes is minutely inspected from top to bottom. ” Last season, we caught a guy who was trying to sneak a 2000 horsepower 24 cylinder Allison aircraft engine in his Ford instead of the usual V8. Yep, they’ll try anything to get an edge!”
” By the way,” Denton added…” did you know that every NASCAR vehicle is absolutely and exactly the same? We DO allow them to change the name on the front….Ford, Dodge, Chevy…but they are exact duplicates of each other……and they’re all made in China!”