This week's race at Michigan takes on a brand new chapter of the manufacturers battle amid all the wide ranging issues from bailouts to bankruptcy. GM, Ford, and Dodge are all experiencing their share of dilemmas right now, as are most of the American homes.
However, if we reflect back to the banter and swagger from just a year ago among the Detroit automobile executives during their bi-annual Super Bowl of stock cars in Michigan, it’s quite comical. And then when mixing in Toyota’s logical approach to the entire scenario, it becomes a little bit more amusing.
I can just see the Ford hierarchy in their luxury box discussing how dominant they are on their home track, running off all the stats like how Ford has dominated Michigan since 1985. One executive demands that everyone grabs their cosmopolitans for a cheer and says, “Here’s to getting win number thirty since 1985, good luck Chevy!”
The crowd with all their paisley cardigan sweaters, penny loafers with no socks, and khaki dockers shorts all laugh in unison. GM has only managed 13 wins over that span with no real reason to define their second city statistics, but whatever it is, the Ford boys are having a good time with it.
One Ford executive asks after the cheer, “Hey Chipper, what about Dodge, how have they done?”
Chipper, waits, like he was waiting for the softball to be thrown underhand to him and snidely says, “Who?”
The Ford luxury box is in tears with laughter at the simple comedy. Really, who is Dodge to compare with the mighty Ford, inventor of the Model T and mass production science of the automobile as we know it today.
Even though Dodge has been more successful than GM since re-entering NASCAR in 2001 at Michigan with six wins, GM is the real archrival in the car wars, or the Super Bowl of stock cars. Beating GM is what it all about.
Over in the Chevy suit, they can all see through the glass windows down four suits from where Ford is and the laughter is starting annoy the group smuggly wearing their colorful and diverse Chevy bow-ties which has a look more of allegiance to Reverend Louis Farrahkan than solidarity among the Chevy fraternity.
As they see the jubilation within the Ford box and glances their way, one of the Chevy executives named Spalding raises his Mimosa to give a toast. “Gentleman, what do you say we let those peasants over there win the race today in exchange for another championship by one of our drivers?”
The GM luxury box all agree in unison and laugh at Ford’s expense once again. In reality it’s all about the Championships, right. Over the same span that Ford boasts about dominating since 1985 with Bill Elliott smoking the field, by creative engineering according to Chevy to this very day, GM claims 19 titles to Ford’s six.
Further down the luxury boxes closer to turn one, as opposed to where Ford and Chevy are at the start/finish line, sit the new kids on the block, Toyota.
Toyota has taken a lot of grief from the fans of NASCAR because they are a Japanese company. NASCAR fans, along with upper management of the big three in Detroit, have long hated the fact that Japan is now a major part of American stock car racing. GM and Ford have high-browed Toyota along the way and kept the fuel flowing for the fans in the witch hunt.
Toyota doesn’t have time for the childish banter going on 25 suits away. Their not invited into the party and they don’t care. What they do have is a cute cartoon printed out for all their executives in the luxury box.
It chronicles a picture of a stereotypical NASCAR fan gazing at a map of North America that displays where the NASCAR stock cars are built by region, with a caption that asks, “Which is the real American stock car?”
The NASCAR fan has a big question mark over his head with a puzzled look.
Beside the caption is chart showing that Toyota has more Camry’s built in America than the Ford Fusion, Chevy Impala, Dodge Challenger and Charger combined, with Georgetown, Kentucky stamped by the Toyota logo as the leader in real American stock car manufacturers.
It’s apparent that Toyota amid everything that has happened has had the last laugh without having to say anything. The plan by American auto makers to take their business to Canada and Mexico apparently didn’t work in the long run for them.
It’s a shame that the American automobile industry has fallen the way it has. I miss the old days of banter between NASCAR’s heavyweights in the Michigan races, and hopefully they’ll all be able to forget about all that is going in their world for one day and enjoy the race with an ice cold beer before going back to work on Monday and figuring out a plan for future success.