Thursday, February 15, 2007

As it goes at Daytona, so goes the nation

Let me say right up from that I'm a bigot in matters of national origin - at least when it comes to cars. The idea of Toyota competing fairly on the NASCAR circuit gives me as much heartburn as anything else the Japanese auto industry has forced upon us, like the idea that trucks are better sports cars than sports cars are, that 4 wheel drive cars handle better, that there is no penalty for substituting complex valve trains and very high RPMs for displacement. That narrow cars with small engines are the product of a more noble sort of engineering rather than a necessity forced upon Japanese manufacturers by a punitive tax structure and narrow roads, is a lie that can only be atoned for by a massive and humiliating loss at the track.

Besides, bigotry doesn't have to make sense, does it? Anyway, Toyota's NASCAR debut is something my bad dreams are made of and the announcement that Michael Waltrip, scheduled to run one of those buzz bombs at Daytona this Sunday has lost his crew chief and team director because officials found that the engine's fuel system had been illegally tampered with in an attempt to make a few more horses, has put a nasty little sneer on my GM loving, Toyota hating face.

The problem with American engines in this kind of racing is that they make way too much power and in the interest of not making every Sunday a bloody Sunday at the race track, they are required to use things like restrictor plates and approved fuels to keep the horsepower down. Any aficionado of NHRA drag racing has seen vehicles with big American V8's turning out thousands of horsepower and exceeding 300 mph in about 3 seconds. You would have to do more than add some mysterious substance to the fuel to do that with Mom's multi valve Camry, glue on plastic wings notwithstanding.

We're talking about American pride and self-respect here and just think about how our troops will be demoralized if something Japanese makes a good showing, whether they cheat or not. It would be like finding "Honda" in huge neon lights on the Washington monument or finding sushi on the menu at Denny's. We might as well just disassemble the country and sell it for parts on eBay.

I can't forget that we are talking about one of the companies that decimated the domestic industry by convincing us that buzzy little engines were what the hip kids all drive, that "Tokyo Drifting" counts more than winning LeMans, that you shouldn't buy a Viper because that '62 Buick was sort of a pig.

Now that all of a sudden they have discovered that there is after all, no substitute for displacement, I'm not amused. I am quite amused that companies that I see as having thrived on disinformation, misrepresentation and deceit sometimes get caught at it and I will be amused beyond measure to see them lose -- cheering for America as I sit on my Italian Couch with the Persian pillows, drinking Jamaican beer, wearing a Hawaiian shirt made in China and watching the Daytona 500 on my Japanese television.


Intellectual Insurgent said...

We might as well just disassemble the country and sell it for parts on eBay.

I thought Bush was already doing that.

Capt. Fogg said...

That would be too aboveboard. No-bid, under-the-table deals and outright giveaways are more his style.

d.K. said...

My last five cars have been German, various makes/models... Oops.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

True Captain. E-bay is too honest for Bush cronies. It's E-bay without the bidding. :-)

I'm with you DK. When I bought my latest car, I went German and I am never going back. That is the finest engineering in the world! When Hubby gives the Swedes the boot, he'll be on the German bandwagon too.

pete said...

It's Michael Waltrip, not Darrell.

Capt. Fogg said...

Pete - Oops! You're right of course. Sorry Darrell.

Somehow the finest engineering in the world doesn't produce the best handling or fastest cars however. I have a number of European business associates in Europe, including the president of the Aston Martin Club of Belgium and they're all big Corvette fans, but the taxes and the waiting lists get in the way of owning one there. People chase you in Europe if you've got an American car with you -- asking questions and sometimes waving money.

I'm talking about sports cars, of course and these are what I'm interested in, but I don't know of any German car made from carbon fiber and kevlar composites and magnesium frames or forged alloy suspension with fiberglass springs yet and American cars have been taking first place at the important races for years now. There is nothing at all as light, agile, fast or economical coming out of Germany today. Less performance for three times the price isn't good engineering - it's just money.

But of course this tirade was hard to type with my tongue in my cheek. - One of my all-time favorites of all the cars I've owned was a Karmann Ghia convertible - the poor man's Porsche - another was a hopped-up Scirocco. They make great cars in Germany, but there is nothing that can compete in the same category as the Vipers and Corvette C6-R.

NASCAR however, is NASCAR. A Toyota at the Daytona 500 would be like the German soccer team at the world series - wrong game, wrong place.

Anonymous said...

Wut? You do realize that most American cars do have out of country parts and vice versa.