Dale Earnhardt Jr.
lent his voice to a growing chorus last week when he suggested that NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow needs to change. Junior is right on the money. The new car has made racing safer, which is great, but it has made for some snooze-inducing racing as well. Here are five modifications that would turn fuel-strategy-sleepers into Ricky Craven vs. Kurt Busch photo finish nail-biters.
1. Robot copilot
What if David Reutimann
had an R2 unit to repair his car mid-race after Denny Hamlin
bumped him at Pocono? R2-D2 units could monitor fuel consumption, repair damage and disable trash compactors. They'd put your favorite driver right back in the race after a wreck. Additionally, Knight Industries has created a sweet-ass Trans Am prototype of its own. Word of warning for drivers: Check your R2 unit to make sure it’s not harboring secret messages from princesses. You can't talk your way out of trouble when you're pulled over by an Imperial Star Destroyer.
2. Jet fighter ejection seats
The primary use of the escape hatch would be to protect drivers, but it also could be used as an awesome victory lane celebration. Picture three cars colliding in a fiery wreck, the drivers jettison from the cars and parachute safely into the stands where they are mobbed by fans. I know Sam Hornish Jr. and Jeff Gordon
would vote for jet packs and parachutes. This also creates the possibility of the first "Parachute Fist Fight" as two drivers duke it out while parachuting back to the track.
3. Animal copilot
This is dangerous Digger territory, but hear me out. Drivers pick their own copilot (picks will run the gamut from Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane's basset hound Flash to Every Which Way But Loose orangutans.) It's a great way to get kids and ladies excited about racing. Bonus: drivers can keep both hands on the wheel when they want to give someone the bird.
4. Mario Kart-style power-ups
At the halfway point in the race, the Car Of Tomorrow would be equipped with a randomized power-up that can shrink other cars, make their own cars briefly invincible or provide a heat-seeking turtle shell that will spin out the leader. Since everyone would get to use one heat-seeker it's likely to make little difference in the outcome of the race, but it would spice up mid-race action. Kevin Harvick has been stuck in the back of the pack too often. What if he had the ability to shrink all of the other cars into tiny "baby cars?"
5. Mod to avoid: flux capacitor
Great Scott! Imagine the ramifications if Kyle Busch was allowed to travel into the future, then travel back to 1955 and give his grandfather a sports almanac from 2015! I can't even think of the nightmarish future that would result. To quote the great Doc Brown, "If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious shit."
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