Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 | 8:42 a.m.
Jimmie Johnson’s crash on lap three of the Dickies 500 gave Chad Knaus and his crew the chance to put their formidable triage skills to good use. I’m always impressed by any driver who can finesse a stock car around a track at nearly 200 miles per hour, but seeing the No. 48 crew rebuild Johnson’s car in one hour and eight minutes was almost as impressive as what a driver can do behind the wheel.
In that short time frame the crew was able to remove and replace body parts, the rear axle and front suspension components all while cutting, bending and welding on the tattered car. Don’t you wish you could get this kind of service at your local dealership?
But if a team is allowed to replace so many major components in order to stay in the race, shouldn’t they be allowed to replace the engine too? The No. 48 team rebuilt a car that Knaus initially thought was beyond repair due to its heavy damage. That’s a lot of rebuilding. And if replacing major drivetrain components like the rear axle and driveshaft are allowed, then changing an engine should also be allowed.
Fortunately, the No. 48 team didn’t have engine issues during Sunday’s race. But if they had, replacing the engine should have been an option.
I can remember when engine changes during a race were part of the sport. Teams became so proficient at it that it became an art form. It also added an element of excitement to the races to see a team change an engine in twenty minutes.
I know that allowing an engine swap during a race would conflict with NASCAR’s single-engine rule. But teams could still be required to race with the same engine they use in qualifying and be allowed to install a new engine if one blows during the race.
Last week I attended the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) convention in Las Vegas. SEMA, hosts this yearly convention where every type of car part and accessory imaginable is displayed. Here are a few of the more unusual cars I witnessed.
1959 Fiat 500 with a 427 small block that produces 725 horsepower.
My favorite was this fully restored, early Ford Bronco
Legendary designer Chip Foose as he signed autographs.