Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Ford, Toyota, and NASCAR

Yesterday's news was all about the downsizing at Ford. This is significant if only for the fact that American industry was rocketed forward by Henry Ford and his assembly line of Ford cars. When Henry built the River Rouge complex, raw materials came in one end of the complex and finished cars rolled off the line at the other end.

Of course Henry build this plant out of necessity. At that time it was difficult to get vendors who could supply enough parts to build the cars, to say nothing of quality control. Today many Fords are built by qualified vendors and the Ford plants merely assembled the finished parts into a finished vehicle.

Another announcement yesterday was Toyota's decision to field racing teams in NASCAR's Busch and Nextel Cup circuits. About 5 or 6 years ago Dodge did the same by resuming support of racing teams in those circuits. Seems the Dodge sponsorship of teams in the Craftsman series truck circuit showed promise so the Dodge Intrepid was pushed onto the ovals with the Pontiacs, Chevies, and Fords. Ironically, Toyota has been in the Craftsman circuit for a few years now, too, and are breaking into the Busch and Nextel series with cars.

As an aside, I wonder if the "good ol' boys" will root for Toyotas on the circuit. Toyota makes a vast majority of cars sold in the US in the US, mainly in plants located in the south. Stay tuned.

To close this loop, I haven't heard about Ford's involvement in NASCAR. Ford, like Chevrolet, Dodge, and Pontiac, supports teams in NASCAR. This is not a cheap endeavor. So, are people being laid off while the company still supports racing teams? And will the laid-off Ford employees cheer against the Ford cars in NASCAR? If so, will they cheer on the Toyotas racing the ovals?

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