When NASCAR was founded by Bill France Sr. more than fifty years ago, the idea was to race cars that could be bought off a dealership showroom floor – stock cars. Over the years as technology advanced, so have the cars, but the NASCAR philosophy remained the same, with driver skill being the deciding factor when a car crosses the finish line. Following a series of deaths in the first few years of the new century – Tony Roper, Kenny Irwin, Adam Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. – NASCAR officials turned their attention to making the sport safer and in 2007 the Car of Tomorrow (COT) was introduced with the emphasis on driver safety.
To level the playing field to an extent, the exact same template was used, regardless of which manufacturer was building the car – Ford, Dodge, Toyota or Chevrolet. The slightly larger build of the Car of Tomorrow was a little less aerodynamic, but more stable at high speeds and better able to handle impact from other cars. The new CoT debuted on March 25, 2007, at Bristol with Kyle Busch winning the race in a Chevrolet, but nonetheless commenting during his victory lane interview that the car “sucked”. Other drivers gave the car mixed reviews, with one of the negatives being that racing had been reduced to a single-file procession with little room for the action provided by competitors passing one another.
Various problems with the CoT were experienced and ironed out over the following years, and in 2012 fuel injection replaced the carburetor as the fuel distributor. For 2013, NASCAR sanctioned a redesign of the CoT body style,which is mostly cosmetic in nature, to identify with the manufacturer, with the chassis and mechanics of the car remaining the same. The CoT was officially renamed the Gen6 car by NASCAR at the 2012 Ford Championship Weekend.
In a recent series of tests at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the new NASCAR Gen 6 reportedly received a stamp of approval from the sixteen drivers testing it. Dale Earnhardt Jr. noted enthusiastically he was really impressed and that NASCAR is going to be “revolutionized” by the car – and that type of endorsement from one of NASCAR’s most popular drivers bodes well for the Gen 6 car in 2013.