Why Stock Cars Have Headlights, Despite Being Purely Decorative

Ask anyone in NASCAR who’s been around for a while and they’ll tell you there’s more parity in the sport than ever before –  in large part, because of advancements in engineering and physics over the years.

“Back in the day, you drove by the seat of your pants, and now you drive by your iPad,” joked NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip, now an analyst for FOX Sports.

Because technology has changed the way stock cars are raced and built, team employ the same tricks, and it’s much harder to identify who’s driving a Ford Fusion, a Chevrolet SS or a Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Cup Series. So the manufacturers add subtle details to differentiate their race cars – including the headlights and brake lights, which don’t actually work and are purely for decoration.

Kyle Larson’s and Jimmie Johnson’s No. 42 and 48 Chevrolets vs. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch’s No. 11 and 18 Toyotas. (Getty Images)

Companies are holding onto the old school “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” theory that once fueled a manufacturers’ rivalry, Waltrip explained.

“They’re highly modified race cars – not necessarily the kind of car you’re going to buy off the showroom floor,” Waltrip said. “But in appearance, we like for the fan at home to be able to identify the car by looking at it and not say they all look the same.

“So all these manufacturers come up with their own way of putting their identity on the car – whether it’s the grille opening, the headlights or something about the car itself that’s similar like the car you buy off the showroom floor.”

Darrell Waltrip in the No. 88 Chevrolet.

NASCAR keeps a tight leash on its teams for what the cars can and can’t do, also contributing to the cars looking similar.

So keeping brake and headlight decals is just one way the manufacturers try to maintain fans’ brand loyalty. Waltrip recalled during much of his career – which spanned in the Cup Series from 1972 top 2000 – many fans were so loyal to a certain company that they didn’t care who was behind the wheel, as long as it was a Chevy or a Dodge.

“I’ll be the first to admit that I wish there was a huge difference with the way one car looks from another,” he said.

“But in this day and age of parity where everybody’s got the same thing – NASCAR tries their hardest to keep all the cars within a box, and in order to do that, they all look similar in a lot of ways.”

Source : http://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/05/nascar-stock-car-darrell-waltrip-explains-fake-brake-headlights-chevrolet-toyota-ford-manufacturers

Why stock cars have headlights, despite being purely decorative
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