Nascar -- The Car of Tomorrow
Nascar Nextel Cup Chase....
Jeff Bodine discusses the Car of Tomorrow
On January 12, 2006, NASCAR announced a universal car named "Car of Tomorrow" (or "COT" for short) after a seven-year design program sparked mostly due to the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr., one of the sport's premier superstars, in a final lap crash during the 2001 Daytona 500.  The then-current cars were based on Holman Moody's 1966 Ford Fairlane.  The primary design considerations were "safety innovations, performance and competition, and cost efficiency for teams." 
All cars are required to fit the same set of templates, using a device that has been named "the claw" that is designed to fit over the new cars. In the first two races at Bristol and Martinsville, the garages were opened one day early and the inspections took up to ten hours so that everyone (teams, officials, etc.) could get a better grip on the new unified template. NASCAR's old rules had a different set of templates for each manufacturer (Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and Toyota). NASCAR has frequently adjusted the rules to ensure that different car manufacturers have relatively equal cars. The universal body of the Car of Tomorrow will eliminate these problems, but could cause many more unforeseen problems.
The car is advertised as reducing dependence on aerodynamics. It features a detached wing, which has not been used since the Dodge Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird in 1970.  The windshield is more upright, which increases drag. The radiator air intake is below the front bumper of the car, which reduces overheating caused by clogged grills. The front bumper is more box-like, which catches more air and slows the car. The front airdam is gapped, as opposed to being a flush piece on the older cars.
The COT has improved safety features over the current car.  The driver's seat has been moved four inches to the right, the roll cage has been shifted three inches to the rear, and the car is two inches taller and four inches wider.  More "crush-ability" is built into the car on both sides, ensuring even more protection. The splitter is a piece of fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) used on the bottom front of the car to produce downforce, replacing the valence. The car's exhaust runs through the body, and exits on the right side, which diverts heat away from the driver.  The fuel cell is stronger, and has a smaller capacity (17¾ gallons, down from 22 gallons, which as of 2007 has become standard in all cars).
Chevrolet teams continue to use the Monte Carlo SS with their current cars while using the Impala SS with the Car of Tomorrow. Chevrolet is discontinuing the Monte Carlo brand and will switch full time to the Impala after 2007. Dodge teams use the Charger with the current car while using the Avenger with the Car of Tomorrow. Ford and Toyota use the Fusion and Camry, respectively, for both their current cars and COT cars.
Criticisms of the COT began with its first tests, with the magazine Speedway Illustrated noting the car's poor performance in traffic (February 2006 issue). The Winston-Salem Journal also noted extensive criticism of the project during 2006 testing, with drivers becoming more vocal by July 2007 and most fans rejecting the model, citing the falsity of many of its technical claims ; one angle of criticism was the differing philosophies of NASCAR officials Gary Nelson and John Darby, with Darby a particularly ardent supporter of the Car of Tomorrow based on a misreading of the sport's competition packages. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth were pointedly critical of the car's poor performance in traffic, with Gordon stating after a July 2007 race at New Hampshire International Speedway, "I'd like to know who it was who said this car would reduce the aero push because I could have told you from when I first drove this car that it would be worse."  Some crew chiefs wore a T-shirt sporting a logo ripping the Car of Tomorrow during 2006 testing. A BlackTree Media Production
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