This picture distributed by Toyota is meant to show off two of its Supra race cars: the Supra stock car that competes in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series but does not have anything stock about it, and the Supra GT4 road racing car that actually has a stock chassis. In a way, it shows what NASCAR could be.
The whole methodology of NASCAR vehicle design is that it trades the cost of developing and building a very small number of very expensive cars (as you’d find in something like Formula One or Le Mans or even the World Rally Championship) for the cost of developing and building a very large number of very affordable cars. Individual drivers in NASCAR might look like they’re racing one car for one season, but it’s actually a number of different physical chassis set up particularly for different races, with hosts of spares to insure against car-crushing wrecks.
The system has produced a labor-intensive cottage industry, the scale of which you can only really grasp if you ever visit one of the race shops down in Charlotte where NASCAR’s blood pumps. I remember touring Hendrick Motorsports’ facility with Chevrolet back in 2014, marveling at room after room of complete and incomplete cars, engine assembly rooms so big that they needed conveyor belts running along the ceiling.
It’s a system, and it works. Look at what happened to LMP1, where high tech’s high costs ran every major manufacturer involved out of the series one by one, for a contrasting case.
But it’s also grown so mature that it has become a world unto itself, and it’s had little to no connection with cars actually on the road for nearly half a century at this point. The break away from actually “stock” chassis began in the 1960s and ‘70s.
Could we make NASCAR’s stock car racing actually made up of stock cars? Sure. It’d basically be touring car racing. But it wouldn’t be easy. Even actual top touring car racing series like DTM, Aussie Supercars, and Super GT have switched to the NASCAR model. The “Supra” that races in Japan has little to nothing to do with the street car, either.
But still, a picture like this can make you dream, can’t it?