Various car models have been part of NASCAR since the early days when it become a sporty for moonshine runners to enter and challenge others in their field.
Today, this sport is a huge part of the auto racing world. Although the moonshine is gone from the trunks of these cars, racing machines take to the track every weekend from early February to late November to compete for the championship. NASCAR has had different formats, sponsorships, and leaders over its history. Its also had several different vehicles that have competed on the track. Let’s take a look at seven that can certainly be considered iconic in this sport.
For Years, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo was a Huge Hit
For 36 years, NASCAR tracks played host to the Chevy Monte Carlo. This car was one of the most popular cars at the tracks around the country, with many winning drivers behind the wheel. This car could be found at NASCAR tracks from 1971 until 2007 and during that time the Monte Carlo racked up 396 career wins. That number is almost twice what any other car achieved.
Some of the names behind the wheel of this Chevy included Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon. In fact, all four of the championships Gordon won were in a Monte Carlo he ran from 1995 to 2001. This car has been amazing for Chevy, racking up 80% of the 31 manufacturer’s championship won by the brand.
An Early Favorite is the Ford Galaxie
One of the most beloved car models of NASCAR was the Ford Galaxie. This car showed up in the 1960s and become the car of choice for many Hall of Fame drivers including Dan Gurney, Ned Jarrett, and Fred Lorenzen. The Galaxie was a dominate car during its time, giving racers an advantage of the track.
This Ford racing machine offered a different engine setup than the Hemi V8s that were on the track. The 427 with overhead camps gave the Galaxie the edge needed to head to victory lane. During its time in NASCAR, this Ford racked up 199 wins and brought Ned Jarrett the cup championship twice.
The Ford Thunderbird Was More than a Street Racing Machine
To give the Thunderbird more legitimacy as a muscle car, Ford took it to NASCAR and it became a big-time hit This car was sought-out by both street racers and NASCAR teams, the latter of which had a much easier time procuring this amazing car. The Thunderbird hit 212.81 mph at a time when this type of speed was unheard of in this sport.
Bill Elliott was one of the most famous racers of the Ford Thunderbird, and it was he who clocked that incredible speed at the Talladega Superspeedway. While in use, the Thunderbird reached victory lane 184 times and helped Elliott win 11 times during 1985 which became known as the Winston Million season for Elliott.
The Chevy Impala Was Originally a Racing Machine
The Impala we know of today is a now-gone and its last iteration was a large, comfortable sedan. At one time, the Chevy Impala was one of the most impressive car models in NASCAR. This car was first used in the early 1960s. The last time we saw this car on a track was in 2012 at the Cup level. The Impala racked up 152 wins and was the car of choice for Jimmie Johnson, both Earnhardts, and Jeff Gordon.
While we don’t expect to receive the same car at a dealership that’s racing around on the track, the original Impala models were exactly that. What an exciting time in the history of racing when you could buy the same car that was riding around on the tarmac on Sundays.
Toyota was a Late Entry, but the Camry is Still Exciting
You might think Toyota would have brought a Supra to the NASCAR track, but when this brand entered the fray, they weren’t making the sports car. Instead, they brought the TRD version of the Camry, giving NASCAR the most powerful version of this venerable sedan. Toyota had been in the Craftsman Truck Series for years but entered the top level of the sport in 2007.
The first year didn’t go well for the Camry, but once Joe Gibbs Racing adopted the Camry, things changed for the better and this car now has 148 wins and three championships. It’s amazing what can happen when the right team is involved.
The Ford Fusion Was Another Unlikely NASCAR Entry
The Taurus had been part of NASCAR for several years, but in 2006, Ford chose to put a different sedan on the track. That sedan is the Ford Fusion. This was a big change for the brand. Once teams that ran Fords got used to the Fusion, the wings began to pile up for the teams.
The Fusion ran through 2018 and gathered 108 wins including aiding Matt Kenseth in his Daytona 500 victories. The Fusion was also the car that cross the finish line for the 1,000th win for Ford in NASCAR in 2013. This marked a special occasion for the brand that had been in this sport from the very beginning and continues to be one of the top automakers in racing today.
The Ford Taurus was a Venerable Racer
Once it was time for the Thunderbird to exit the NASCAR circuit, Ford needed another car model to give us the fun and excitement of racing. The Blue Oval turned to the Taurus and this car become one of the most successful cars in racing. Of course, the version used in NASCAR was the two-door model.
The Taurus on the track was nothing like the model you could find in a showroom. This modified model came to the track in the late 1990s and collected 100 wins and several championships for Roush Racing. Both Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch drive the Taurus until it was replaced by the Fusion.
Which car model is your favorite that NASCAR has used? Do you like the current cars on the track or prefer some the old muscle machines?
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