Jeff Dunham might have nailed NASCAR’s mantra on the head using his Bubba J puppet: “THEY’RE MAKING A LEFT TURRRRN! THEY’RE MAKING ANOTHER LEFT TURRRRN!” NASCAR racing has merit: high speeds, aerodynamic wizardry, tire technology, and bringing fuel economy into the mix doesn’t hurt. Fuel economy? Of course! Ever see a race where somebody’s tank runs dry and they wind up stranded out on the track? No NASCAR has a fuel gauge. They simply top it off and hope that between the spotters and the driver, that they know what’s going on. Neat on it’s own, but for the most part, it’s the same race: sweeping left curve, another sweeping left curve…ad nauseum. Small wonder why you only see a lot of people paying attention when somebody crashes real big.
In the 1980s, NASCAR was trying to move out of the South. Riverside International Raceway was supposed to go away by the mid-1980s and NASCAR was looking to add on to it’s series by making smaller cars that could handle the road course that were more common out west. Known as the L-R series (left-right), the race cars would be somewhere in size between a GM J-car and a Ford Mustang in size, and we wouldn’t be too shocked to learn that the Chrysler LeBaron coupe body that was used in ARCA racing didn’t have ties to the series as well. Only two prototypes were produced: a Banjo Matthews-built Pontiac J2000 and a Bobby Allison-commissioned Buick Somerset. The J2000 was a handling nightmare, heavy in the nose. Allison’s Buick was better off, but after delays, questions about tracks and the validity of racing on road-based courses like the one used for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the L-R series was abandoned.
We have to admit, both of the prototypes look pretty badass. Allison’s car hits at SCCA a bit, while the J2000 looks properly purposeful, something no J-car could ever be accused of otherwise.