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NASCAR Tells Jr., Jimmie & Pals To Cool It: Use Technology To Go S-L-O-W-E-R

Will the sudden rule changes affect Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s ability to win from the pole?
Will the sudden rule changes affect Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s ability to win from the pole?Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Michael BaltonCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2011

SATIRE—How fast is too fast? NASCAR officials believe the 206-mile-per-hour-plus speeds achieved Saturday in the Budweiser Shootout were over the top, so they’ve mandated cooling system restrictions to the cars, designed to decrease the amount of time competitors could pair up for speed-increasing drafting.

As a result, competing crews had just two days to apply all their high-tech tools and test gear to make their cars go slower.

The move prompted many observers to point out that it wasn’t too long ago that the idea behind racing was to use advanced technology to make the cars go faster.

“That’s old-school thinking,” said Jake Hillebrand, NASCAR’s Director of Deceleration. “We need to slow these cars down to make things a little less exciting. Many of our fans have heart conditions, you know.”

 

Why Slower Is Better

The official indicated that NASCAR has a bottom line in mind when it comes to speed.

“We figure with the technology that’s currently available, we can have these cars racing at 55 mph within a season or two," Hillebrand said. "That’s a speed the average fan can relate to.”

Hillebrand pointed to other advantages to making the cars go slower.

“Fans will be getting more for their money because at that speed 500 mile events will take at least 10 hours to complete," he said. "And at 55, we will be burning a lot less Sunoco racing fuel. That’s good for the environment.”

Until NASCAR achieves the ultimate in racing sluggishness, it is considering some temporary measures to slow down the action.

“Instead of a flagman, we can have a school crossing guard at the start/finish line,” Hildebrand said.

“Another idea is to install those speed cameras at the end of every straightaway,” the NASCAR official added. “And we can have a Highway Patrol car pulling over drivers at random, just like they do in real life.”

 

Happy Hookups

Finally, Hillebrand revealed NASCAR’s ultimate solution to the problem of one-on-one drafting. 

“Starting next season we are going to hook a 34-foot Airstream travel trailer to the back bumper of every car,” he said. “Not only will that slow them down. We can sell the inside of each trailer as an On Track VIP Suite.

“That’s an idea that follows the 3Rs of NASCAR: Rules, Revenue and Regression.”

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