On March 26, 1955, in Columbia, South Carolina, NASCAR driver Fonty Flock earned Chevrolet’s first manufacturer’s win. Fifty-seven years later, on Nov. 4, at Texas Motor Speedway, the most successful NASCAR manufacturer captured a milestone 700th victory when Jimmie Johnson piloted his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to a win in the AAA Texas 500. Chevrolet closed the season with two more wins – at Phoenix and then the season finale at Homestead – to bring its win count to 702. Retiring the Impala after accumulating 152 wins over 12 seasons (1959-64, 2007-12), the manufacturer will christen the new Chevrolet SS model in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Ford and Toyota, the other two manufacturers in the Sprint Cup Series, released their models earlier in the year, but Chevy was saving the big announcement for Las Vegas. During Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, Chevrolet unveiled the new SS model to the NASCAR world on Nov. 29. The new model drew impressive reviews from the industry and even four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon was ecstatic about the car and the opportunity to drive it next season. “Oh my goodness, this thing looks amazing! It looks fantastic,” Gordon said after driving the model into the media event in The Wynn Theater. “I’m so excited to race this car!”
The new Chevrolet SS will be an offshoot of the award-winning, rear-wheel-drive architecture that Chevy is known for in its performance vehicles like the Camaro and upcoming Holden VF Commodore. One of the frequently heard complaints from fans is that NASCAR’s “stock” cars look nothing like their production versions, so NASCAR and Chevrolet decided to address that issue.
General Motors North America President Mark Reuss was in attendance at Champion’s Week and discussed the cars’ similarities with the fans and media.
“We’ve been focusing on a number of important initiatives to build a stronger connection with our fans by incorporating relevant technologies that we’re using on today’s high-performance Chevrolets while also creating designs that help our fans make the link between what they see on the track, on the streets and in the Chevy showrooms,” Reuss said. “Just like the race car, the production version of the SS will be powered by a V-8 and it will be a rear-wheel drive once again.”
Additionally, this will be the first time in 17 years that Chevrolet will offer a real-wheel-drive sedan for sale in the United States.
The limited production 2014 model version of the new all-rear-wheel drive V-8 SS also will be very similar in its exterior design to that of the SS seen on the track. Reuss assured those in attendance that the SS won’t be mistaken for any other car on the asphalt. Like the production car, the design on the front end is bold and highly styled. The hood has distinctive contours that replicate the production model and the rear will appear very representative as well.
“This is good for our fans,” Reuss said. “It’s great for NASCAR, and Chevrolet and our dealers, and most importantly, the relationship for our customers. Everybody wins here.”
The car’s body surface was created utilizing some of the latest computer modeling tools and then computational fluid dynamics were used to model the aerodynamic performance without ever having to build an initial prototype. Afterward, a 40-percent scale model was used in a rolling wind tunnel to test their computational analysis. Following some refinements resulting from the wind tunnel test, the full-sized version of the Chevrolet SS was born. The car was tested on a handful of tracks this season, including Texas Motor Speedway, alongside the new Ford Fusion and Toyota Camry. However, Chevrolet was the only one that used a disguised paint scheme so that it would remain difficult for spectators to make out the distinct contours of the car from a distance.
In the close of the unveiling, NASCAR President Mike Helton thanked NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton and the manufacturers for their efforts in helping progress the sport of stock car racing.
“The anticipation going into 2013 is building,” Helton said. “It will build over the offseason and it’ll be, we feel, one of the milestones that we’ll look back as we celebrate our history in the future. We’ll look back and see 2013 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup car as a very significant milestone for us.”
The Chevrolet SS street model is expected to be available to the public by early next year.