It's historical fact that without racing there would be no Ford Motor Company. After all it was Henry Ford's sucess in 1902 that allowed him to raise the financing to start his third and sucessful attempt at an automobile manufacturing company.
Ford has been involved in racing either directly or indirectly ever since. In the ealry days, Stock Cars were "stock" cars, modified for racing, but based on production models. That's where the old saying "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday!" comes from. And Ford's endurance and quality was shown under the most abusive conditions.
It wasn't just in the United States that Ford raced, even in Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia and South America Ford powered cars ran in various "Stock Car" classes and rallies.
Not just the big V8 Fords either, in Europe and elsewhere, even the littlest Fords were burning up the tracks. This late 70's Ford Fiesta racing in Spain illustrates that fact.
And in many cases Ford was able to highlight developments in production models and bring that racing back to the people. Ford's relationship with companies like Cosworth and Lotus over the years led to improvements we see under our hoods today.
Even in open wheel classes, where you would think the least would translate to production models. This early 60's Ford Cosworth powered Lotus race car, helped develop overhead cam technology that is under Ford hoods today.
There are still racing series all over the world that are closer to "stock" than you would think, like the Australian Supercar Series. V8 Ford and Holden (GM) run head to head, and you can buy similar cars on dealer lots.
Even in the US there are still areas where you can see "door slammers" running around the tracks, and not just go fast turn left, these Trans Am Mustangs have to turn right and left and weave through a tough field of world class competitors that cost much more. These Mustangs can be considered rolling development labs also, as they run modified Modular V8s not so removed from what you can buy in dealerships.
Rally racing brings development in braking systems, fuel management systems, suspensions and proves them under extreme situations. The way racing is supposed to.
But what do these two have in common, what benefit as a customer do I get from a plastic body that hardly resembles the production car and rides on a complete tube chassis. The NASCAR Fusion is a "2 door" although they don't actually have doors, while the production model is only a 4 door. The racer is rear wheel drive, while production is front wheel drive. The racer has a 5.8L overhead valve V8, that hasn't been seen in a production model car or truck in a decade. That huge fosil of a V8 has a carburetor, which nobody has used on a production car in almost 20 years. So where is the development that usually accompanies racing? Can you buy a car like the one that races?
I'm not so ignorant to think that Ford doesn't get some benefit from NASCAR, but other than advertising and "brand recognition" where's the beef? I say NASCAR lost it's relevance in the early 80's, even as I recognize it's the hottest ticket in town. But I remember when I would watch Donnie Allison or David Pearson race their Ford Stock Cars, and they looked like cars I knew. The last NASCAR Stock Car I could recognize as a Ford, was the mid 80's T-Bird. I would prefer to see more Trans Am and SCCA racing or even an American racing series like they have in the UK, Germany and Australia, Grand Touring type racing. No carbs with restrictor plates, but real racing with real development.
There's nothing STOCK in stock car racing today, and that sucks.