There was a cliché in the old days of NASCAR: Win on Sunday, sell on Monday.
That’s when the cars on the track looked much more like the ones on the dealer lots than they do today. So, if you saw a Ford Galaxy 500 or Chevy Impala win a race over the weekend, you could find one that looked very much like the race winner down at your local dealer showroom on Monday. And you could buy it.
Fast forward to this past weekend and a bright blue Chevy SS – the company’s latest flagship hot rod sedan – was serving as pace car at a NASCAR event in Florida. When Chevy wanted to show off its hot new model, I doubt “hot” as is in literally on fire is what they had in mind.
But that’s what happened. The pace car driver – former top racer Brett Bodine – had to bail out (no one was hurt) as the SS erupted in smoke and flames. Of course, TV and smartphone cameras caught every second and the photos and videos were all over the Internet almost instantly.
Chevrolet on Sunday issued an extremely predictable official statement that said no one was injured and “an assessment is under way.” OK, that’s a safe way to respond but maybe Chevy could have injected just a little bit of humor and turned the whole crazy episode to its PR advantage, lawyers be damned. After all, no one got hurt, so why not have a little fun with a bad situation?
How about an official statement noting that the Chevy engineers will have to go back to the drawing board to make sure they can tame the amazing power of the Chevy SS V-8 engine? Or a comment about how the new Chevy can barbecue 200 lbs. of chicken before a Dodge Charger can even get out of the garage?
All of which could inject staid old General Motors with a badly needed dose of the kind of sassy attitude that a lot of people love about the Mini brand. Come to think of it, GM isn’t the only big corporation that could stand to take itself slightly less seriously.
- Eric Whittington