Could one glaring issue in NASCAR be solved as simply as this:
Taking actual 2010-11 stock cars and retrofitting them with COT safety features?
Even more, could this one relatively small change solve most of the problems surrounding NASCAR?
It is a thought that is both radical—though for a series that bills itself as "stock car racing," it shouldn't be—and terribly overdue. Seeing a car you recognize going 200 mph might actually cause people to pay attention again. Of course, doing so might lead to NASCAR's leadership admitting it was wrong.
Wrong about what, you may ask?
The COT. Or, rather, the exterior design of the COT.
You see, the safety of the "flying brick" as it has been dubbed, is second to none. No one disputes this; nor should they. And while one shouldn't ignore the safety advances the COT incorporates, the fact remains that it is a massive lightning rod for controversy—second only to the Chase. Furthermore, it is hated by a large majority of racing fans.
Now besides the safety factor, NASCAR said it implemented the COT to control costs by creating a uniform chassis for teams to tackle. But while there is a modicum of adjustability in the chassis, the truth is the COT, for all its available tweaks, is nothing more than a spec body.
And that alone has raised the ire of NASCAR fans.
"This isn't IROC" they say. But with the continued drop in ratings, one could argue it's worse than IROC.
So what to do?
Apart from dropping the four letter station as a "broadcast partner"—something that is long overdue—the one major change that could turn NASCAR's fortunes could be to simply let the manufacturers drive their actual cars. Or, rather, let the teams go out and buy a Camaro/Mustang/Challenger/Camry off the lot of any actual dealership, gut the thing and put the COT's safety and power inside and out; but without changing the actual look of the car.
"But the aero shape of the car will be completely different," NASCAR will say.
Well allow me to tell you what scores of NASCAR fans will say in reply.
Because once upon a time, they raced actual cars off the lot. They even raced them at—gulp—Talladega; and with speed. The drivers loved it. The fans loved it. And that meant the sponsors loved NASCAR.
But as the car morphed slowly—and then quickly with the COT—into the Spec vehicle it is now, fans ran away; first slowly but now in droves. And with ratings in retreat now the sponsors are beginning to cut their losses.
So, besides the terrible television product produced by some of NASCAR's "partners", the Spec brick—and the "racing" it produces—is a major reason so many have gone away. If a car that actually looked like the car in their driveway showed up on their screens, both diehards and newbies would be drawn to the spectacle alone.
Add in some good racing and you'd probably get some actual new fans that'll stick.
And who knows, maybe the sight of a real stock car will have them seeing past the terrible TV product given to them every weekend late in the year—for a little while at least...
But hey—one glaring issue at a time, right?