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The Age of Ugly Race Cars


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The world of racing goes through ebbs and flows in all types of areas. The two major championships in the world, NASCAR and Formula One, have recently made changes to their standard car specifications that are simply horrific from an appearance point of view.

Growing up, I always thought of race cars as the most dynamic cars. They were either sleek and fast or mean and fast. Who can forget the Dodge Chargers of the 70s in NASCAR or the sleek Lotus six wheeler of F1? The designs were almost always pushing the barriers of the rules in the sport and, it sometimes seemed, space as well.

Over the last few years, we've seen arguably the end of the beautiful car in both NASCAR and F1. Why? Well, the governing bodies for both sports argue for safety and cost effectiveness. This is probably true, but there is no disputing the cars are simply ugly.

In NASCAR, we have the standardize Car of Tomorrow that looks like it was designed by someone who really likes slot cars. Stunted air damn in the front, fat in width and capped off by a cheesy wing in the back, few find the car attractive and it really takes away from the sport. While the car may be safer, it certainly hasn't done anything for the racing. Just look at the championship. Hendrick and Roush cars through and through. So much for the idea of giving the smaller teams a better opportunity to win.

In some ways, NASCAR can be forgiven for the Car of Tomorrow given the cost of racing and the imminent failure or bailout of GM, Ford and Chrysler. But what about Formula One? These teams throw money around like it is toilet paper. Toyota is estimated to have a budget between $400 and $600 million dollars a year for 18 races. Given such budgets, it is little surprise the F1 is the area where massive amounts of technological development happens. At least it was.

Formula One is also trying to cut costs. Part and parcel to this plan is to ban most of the aerodynamics that make the cars such demons going around corners. The stated purpose it to slow down the cars, cut costs and make it easier to pass. The new cars are not out yet, but photos from testing reveal a car that is pug ugly and that it is an insult to pugs. The front wing is nearly wider than the car while the rear wing is so narrow it looks like it should be on a smaller car. Not only is the car ugly, the first reports indicate passing is no easier because of aerodynamic issues.

The end result of all this is that we have two championships that now have cars that are neither sleek nor fierce. These cars were not hit by the ugly stick. The entire tree fell on them. Is a nice car design really too much to ask for? Sheesh.

Dirk Gibson is with - a search resource for hundreds of thousands of car parts online for a huge variety of vehicle makes and models.


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