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NASCAR Contemplates The UniTemplate

Dateline: 03/14/2000

For years now NASCAR has continuously played with the rules to make the three manufacturers equal. This season is no different as the 2000 Winston Cup season had so far been defined by imbalance, the Chevy teams were clearly at a disadvantage. Early last week, NASCAR announced the results of extensive wind tunnel testing and gave the Chevy teams an additional two inches on the nose of the car.

The short term results are impressive, Chevy, Pontiac, Ford finish in the top three and the race is the most exciting, fan-friendly race of the year. With 30 lead changes among 17 different drivers and the closest finish in memory. Although one race is not enough to declare victory, NASCAR appears to have improved their end product (the show) by making all teams more competitive.

The Future

Next season will feature the return of Dodge to the Winston Cup series. This will make four different cars for NASCAR to juggle in the never ending quest for equality and some people around the sport are starting to whisper about a "UniTemplate."

The idea behind the UniTemplate is that every car would conform to exactly the same dimensions. The same roof line, the same trunk width, the same nose cone. This would essentially eliminate the need for NASCAR's endless wind tunnel testing and mid-season rule changes by giving all teams a level starting point.

While this would help solve the problem it would also eliminate some of the creativity and ingenuity that have defined the sport since it's birth over fifty years ago. NASCAR would lose some of it's flavor too. Who cares about Chevy vs. Ford and the Manufacturers Championship when all the cars look exactly the same except for the emblem on the hood?

The Verdict

There is no doubt that the UniTemplate would make for better competition on a week to week basis. However, NASCAR has survived and thrived with the existing rules. Currently, if one brand falls behind they just worked harder to produce a better race car or NASCAR can adjust the template to give them a little concession so that everybody is back on level ground within just a few weeks.

One template for everybody? We already have an IROC series. I'd rather see teams rewarded for their hard work and creativity even if only for a few weeks before NASCAR re-levels the field. While I am in favor of rule changes to even up the brands, I think the UniTemplate is a bad idea.

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