Wings Clipped, Spoilers Back


So NASCAR's dumping the wing -- a primary feature of the Car of Tomorrow -- and bringing back the spoiler, eh? I guess when NASCAR announced that the Nationwide Series new "Car of Tomorrow"-like car would have a more traditional spoiler, the writing was on the wall for the wing.

The wing had a couple of problems. First, the obvious problem, is that it was ugly as all get-out. I don't think anybody really liked the look of it when it was first announced (okay, except maybe Brian France). The second is that its bulky appearance made it difficult for drivers to see out the rear window.

Johnny Anderson blows over at Daytona 1981.

Another controversy that developed late last year was the idea that the wing was contributing to blowover crashes, such as those by Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman at Talladega. I don't know that the wing is any different in this regard to the spoiler. Blowovers have become pretty common since Detroit and NASCAR downsized the cars in 1981. (Watch Connie Saylor blowover at Daytona 1981.)

As of now, the new spoiler will be tested at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the early part of the season and adopted for the circuit probably by the end of March. To me, the move brings two things to mind: 1) NASCAR is willing to make changes to address complaints, and 2) NASCAR is still stuck in an IROC mentality.

Why do I make point 2? Simply because NASCAR has said that the spoiler will be produced by an independent manufacturer and all teams must purchase their spoilers from said manufacturer. The spoiler will be an aluminum blade 4 inches (!) tall and at a fixed 70° (!!) angle. Fixing the spoiler angle is what tees me off the most. The 70° angle is, of course, "all about safety", and realizing that no crew chief worth a damn would be raising it above that, they probably figured they might as well make it fixed.

I remember the days when the teams could adjust the spoiler as a means of setting up the car. Not just during the weekend, but in the middle of the race as well. It was considered another variable the crew chief could work with -- finding a good balance between downforce and less drag, depending on the track. In the 80s teams could even lay that thing all the way back to 20° if they dared to.

Not anymore. Everyone runs the same spoiler now.

Same spoiler.

Same cars.

Same tracks.

Same drivers.


Categories : Opinion

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