The Driver Suit Blog-The Goal of All Drivers In Auto Racing-Revisited

miamiflag-1By David G. Firestone

Though NASCAR stands for “National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing” one of the major complaints is that the cars aren’t so much “stock” but “silhouette” cars. Stock cars are cars that are more or less bought off the showroom floor, brought to the track, and raced. Granted that early stock car racing was created by moonshine runners, who had souped up regular cars so that they could haul shine without attracting suspicion, and if the cops did light them up, the shiners could outrun the cops.

The standard NASCAR race cars are silhouette cars, meaning that while they are designed to look like their showroom counterparts, they have as much in common with them as LeBron James does with a junior varsity high school basketball player. Showroom cars are built for driving families to and from school, work, to the grocery store, and so on. Race cars are built to do one thing…race. It’s been pointed out that the term “stock” shouldn’t apply to NASCAR race cars anymore, and I tend to agree with that sentiment.

While NASCAR might not be racing “stock” cars anymore, there are a number of racing series that are running stock cars in 2016. Such series include the Pirelli World Challenge, the Canadian Touring Car Championship, a number of other classes and events in the SCCA, and the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge is a series that has had a decent amount of success.

The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge has two different classes, “Grand Sport” and “Street Tuner.” Grand Sport or GS features large displacement 6, 8, 10, or 12 cylinder engine sports cars. GS also features small displacement 4-cylinder forced induction sports cars. Street Tuner, or ST features smaller 4-cylinder, 5-cylinder or 6-cylinder sedans, hatchbacks, coupes or convertibles. Though some minor modifications are allowed, for the most part, these cars are identical to their showroom counterparts. These cars aren’t specially built race cars, but the cars that you or I might drive to work in.

Regardless of if drivers are racing professionally for a well-paying, championship caliber team, or a weekend warrior racing for personal glory, there is one thing that they all want in the end. It’s also the most iconic item in auto racing, the checkered flag. As I stated in my Uni-Watch Flag column: “The most iconic flag in motor sports is universally used to indicate that the race has ended. Its exact origins are unknown, but the first picture of a checkered flag being used to end a race was at the 1906 Vanderbilt Cup on Long Island. NASCAR and IndyCar checkered flags carry the Sunoco logo.”

The tradition of the Sunoco logo on the checkered flag was actually started by Unocal. From 1948 to 2003, Unocal was the official fuel sponsor of NASCAR. As such, their logos appeared on the checkered flags during the 1980’s. It was around that same time that the race used flags would be customized with the name of the event, and presented to the driver, a process that continues to this day. One such example is this 2010 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Miami Grand Prix flag.miamiflag-1The second race of the 2010 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge was the Miami Grand Prix on March 6, 2010. During that 91 lap race, the #61 Roush Performance Mustang, driven by Billy Johnson, and Jack Roush Jr., won the overall event in GS, and the #25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 driven by Derek Whitis won ST. As Roush and Johnson were the overall winners, they were presented with this customized Sunoco race winner flag.miamiflag-1The flag shows a heavy amount of use, including numerous stains all over, and some light snagging. The flag features the Sunoco logo on the front. Traditionally, flags are designed so that the pattern starts on the left side, and this flag is no different. The white stripe is the area where the flag pole is inserted. After the race, when the stains occurred, blue and yellow letters were heat-pressed onto the flag, which read “GRAND PRIX OF MIAMI CSTCC SERIES MARCH 6 2010.”miamiflag-2 miamiflag-3 miamiflag-5 miamiflag-4The flag is meant to be displayed with the front only showing, because the back of the flag has the Sunoco logo reversed. The staining present on the front, is clearly visible on the reverse.miamiflag-6Every driver who races wants to be the first one to see that black and white checkered flag. It’s the one hope of all drivers. I’ve discussed hope on The Driver Suit Blog before. I’m going to revisit my post on hope next week.

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