Brad Keselowski’s victory in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway was a milestone for several reasons.
Keselowski won his second race of the 2012 season. It was his sixth career win. And it was the second time he has won at Talladega.
But perhaps the more notable achievement transcended Keselowski’s personal victories and statistics. It was the first time a Dodge won at Talladega since 1976 when Dave Marcis last brought one home.
This past weekend I had a conversation with a fellow NASCAR fan I had just met. He inquired nearly immediately about my favorite car manufacturer in NASCAR.
I had no answer.
He pressed me by asking what cars I drove. I explained that regardless of what was sitting in my garage it held no bearing on my allegiance to one specific manufacturer.
But for many in our sport it does, clearly.
Over the years I have witnessed this definitive loyalty for one car manufacturer over another. Car window stickers showing a popular character from the comics urinating on a car manufacturer’s logo often made me giggle but, inwardly, they confused me.
This seemed to be an overly venomous means of showing one’s brand loyalty.
In my family over the years, there were always numerous makes of cars in the garage, some daily drivers and others brands of which most had never heard – if they weren’t car enthusiasts like my father.
Car manufacturers all held something positive for my dad, so I never thought in terms of one being better than another, like many who follow NASCAR faithfully do.
Being a Dale Earnhardt fan since the inception of my NASCAR fandom I have been conditioned to think of myself as a Chevy supporter.
But I really can’t claim that whole-heartedly. It’s just not in my genetic make-up.
Like the drivers who strap in their race cars each week for my entertainment and enjoyment, I root for all the manufacturers. I have no favorites.
All of my research indicates that Ford was the first true stock car manufacturer, at least when it came to racing. It was the favorite among most of the moonshiners who later turned race car drivers.
From the late 1930s through the 1940s car owner Raymond Parks and his No.1 mechanic Red Vogt owned and worked, respectively, on Fords. Vogt was a virtual genius wrenching on the cars and gained a far-reaching reputation for his efforts.
Parks as owner and Vogt as mechanic won two back-to-back championships with Red Byron in 1948 and 1949. The 1948 title was in the Modified class. In 1949 it was in the Strictly Stock class that was the dawn of a new era for NASCAR.
The championships went to Oldsmobile in 1950 and 1951. Hudson captured the next three years, 1952-1954. Chrysler won in 1955 and Ford bounced back in 1956 and1957. Then Chevrolet flexed its muscle from 1958-61.
It was Pontiac in 1962 and Ford from 1963-1969.
The 1970s began with Dodge, then one for Plymouth, and then Chevrolet captured 1972-1974. At mid-decade, 1975, Dodge broke the Chevrolet dominance that the General Motors product quickly resumed by 1976-1980.
Buicks found a winning combination in 1981-1982. But Chevrolet reclaimed the title from 1983-1991.
Ford celebrated in 1992, Chevrolet took the championship back in 1993, and Ford wrestled it back in 1994.
From 1995 to 2011 Ford and Chevrolet bandied the title about with Ford winning in 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002.
Chevrolet has the most manufacturer championships with 35. The next closest is Ford with 15.
The addition of Toyota into the manufacturers’ fray created a huge uproar amongst the old guard in NASCAR. Many couldn’t and still many cannot accept a “foreign” manufacturer into their sport.
But, like it or lump it, Toyota is experiencing great success in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Since 2007 Toyota has captured 42 wins. Many agree it is only a matter of time before Toyota wins the championship.
With the depth of competition in the current season, all of the manufacturers are making a strong showing.
I still can’t claim loyalty for one manufacturer over another, but I do enjoy learning why others feel strongly for their manufacturer of choice.
So please do this writer/NASCAR fan a favor and tell me your reasons for championing the manufacturer in NASCAR that you do, and, if applicable, why you fervently dislike others.