NASCAR AERO WAR OF THE '80s
The Build-up, the Climax, and the Aftermath of The Ridiculous '80s Aero War. Therefore I Will Not be Mentioning the Aero That Took Place in the 1960s
Allison's Car Gets Projected Into the Catch-Fence Nearly Avoiding Disaster
The cost of high-speed racing is quite dangerous. Like this wreck Bobby Allison found himself in after popping a tire at well over 210 mph. As his car spun backwards, air got underneath his buick and lifted his car up off the ground. The stock car clipped the wall and flew into the catch-fence, tearing an entire section apart of the protective fence. Nobody was hurt; NASCAR avoided a near-certain tragedy that would be on par with the 1955 Le Mans incident that killed 83 spectators. Bobby Allison's crash marked the the end of the "aero war" with the introduction of the restrictor plate at superspeedways. Some may wonder, how did this come to be? Where did it all begin? Who or what changed the NASCAR scene that resulted in these crazy fast speeds?
Now, let's go back a few years and see what happened.
Here's the story of the '80s NASCAR Aero Wars.
In 1983, Buick revealed their new production car designed to compete in NASCAR. The new car was called the Buick Regal. The Regal featured advanced aerodynamics for the time and proved to be better than the competition. The '83 champion was the before-mentioned Bobby Allison who drove a Buick.
Allison Posing next to his Regal at Daytona in 1983
Just before the start of the '83 season, Chevrolet designers redesigned their car and created the 1983 Monte Carlo, which was essentially a copy of the Regal with Chevy badging.
Meanwhile, at Ford Motor Company, after seeing the success of the Regal and Monte Carlo, the top Ford executives were tired of losing day in and day out. Their current model, 1982 Ford Thunderbird was nicknamed "the boxy bird". The aero was terrible on the Thunderbird and they made an update 1982 model with slightly better aerodynamics.
In 1983 Talladega Qualifying, Cale Yarborough would reach over 200 mph for the first time in well over a decade. knowing he could improve on his previous lap, Cale began another lap. The car spun after entering turn 3 and flipped, contributing to the horrible-looking crash.
Cale Yarborough Walks Away From a Harrowing Crash
GM introduced the "Aerocoupe" Monte Carlo and Grand Prix in 1986. The revision changed the back window angle and made angle more shallow. This change brought air down to the spoiler smoother and quicker, thus increasing aerodynamic properties.
1986-87 Monte Carlo SS (Aerocoupe)
As peeds crept ever-so-higher each year, manufacturers, in a desperate attempt to sit on the throne of speed, started to throw everything they had against one another. In result, the stock cars that raced looked nothing like their street counterpart. Here's an example of the '87 Thunderbird:
On April 30th, 1987, at the Talladega SuperSpeedway Bill Elliott set a record setting average lap speed; 212.808 mph, the likes of which we'll probably never see again. Earlier in the year Elliot set a 210+mph lap at Daytona. This was it, the climax, the peak of the aero wars. After Bobby Allison's horrific crash Nascar began to implement restrictor plates at the big tracks. A restrictor plate limits the amount of air that the carburetor can take in, limiting speeds. After restrictor plates were mandated at the superspeedways the speeds dropped drastically; usually in the low 190 mph range. The days of speed were gone but pack racing was here to stay changing NASCAR racing forever.
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