Last week in The Wall Street Journal, writer Ben Austen publised an article in which he ruminates on why no one appears to be racing the Detroit Three's neo-muscle offerings - the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger. That the piece succeeds overwhelmingly at, however, is highlighting the myopia of America's mainstream press when it comes to motorsports. Many people in media seem to be completely unaware that there are forms of automotive competition other than NASCAR, because the cars the WSJ article focuses on most assuredly are involved in active competition.
NASCAR may be the big dog in terms of the number of races, sponsor participation, and even people at the track. But by no means is anything about modern stock car racing in any way relevant. A more important question might be why automakers continue pour hundreds of millions of dollars into NASCAR every year, but we'll leave that for another day.
All three of the current crop of pony cars compete in a wide variety of racing, from drags to ovals and road courses. Ford in particular has offered turnkey Mustang race cars for several years, and they've been very successful in a number of classes, including the NASCAR-owned Grand-Am series. In fact, fans watching the 2010 Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will see Mustangs, Camaros, and at least one Dodge Challenger slugging it out on a regular basis.
Pratt & Miller racing currently runs a program in which it converts Grand-Am Pontiac GXP.Rs to Camaro bodies. Dodge Challengers can be found at many drag strips (along with innumerable Mustangs and Camaros). And let's not forget that NASCAR is running Challenger- and Mustang-branded stockers in a few Nationwide Series races this year as part of its own "Car of Tomorrow" program.
Admittedly, it would be nice to see a revival on the level of the old Trans Am series, with all three of these machines running in force, but journalists like Mr. Austen would do well to remove the NASCAR blinders before summarily dismissing the modern pony cars as being absent from today's racing scene. It's just not so.