With sales in the U.S. market lagging well behind Japanese and Korean car makers, there has been a lot of speculation recently that Volkswagen is considering starting factory teams in both NASCAR and Formula One.
Toyota made a similar decision when it joined the Truck Series in 2004 and jumped to the Cup Series by 2007. After some initial backlash from NASCAR fans that considered the sport to be meant for American automakers only, the foreign manufacturer has been both accepted and successful.
The company has won five straight manufacturer’s titles in the Truck Series and three straight in the Nationwide Series. Toyota drivers have won personal championships in both series as well. Meanwhile, Joe Gibbs Racing, Red Bull Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing have all enjoyed success in the Cup Series using Toyotas.
Presumably armed with deep pockets, there is no reason Volkswagen couldn’t follow a similar path to success. NASCAR would welcome the relationship with open arms. The influx of cash would help the sport, and there are plenty of quality drivers out there who could benefit.
As a manufacturer, Volkswagen’s presence in motorsports is somewhat minimal. The annual Dakar rally held in South America is one of the few exceptions. In fact, VW driver Nasser Al-Attiyah of Qatar won the 2011 event in a Touareg.
Unfortunately, it appears NASCAR will have to wait for its next foreign manufacturer, at least for the immediate future. The company’s head of technical development made it clear that NASCAR is not in Volkswagen's current plans.