NASCAR fans worried about Chevy’s survival
By DREW JUBERA
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, March 08, 2009
In the minds of many NASCAR fans, General Motors’ money blues ranked with the race-day chances of Team Chevy Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“It’s what we were talking about coming up here: What would we drive if Chevy went out of business?” said Donald Hazel, 41, who loaded up his Silverado with his father and son for the drive from Adel, in South Georgia.
A Hazel has never driven anything but a Chevy, save one 1983 fling with a Ford.
“Had to walk home,” Virgil Hazel, 65, said. “Traded it in for a ‘77 Chevrolet.”
So the notion of driving something without that bowtie logo, and pulling for a driver steering another company’s race car, was almost more than any Hazel from Adel could handle.
“It’s terrible,” Donald Hazel said. “We’ve been Chevrolet, true and blue.”
General Motors’ bleakest news yet rattled more than Chevy fans. Auditors for the parent of Chevrolet said last week that the automaker’s survival was in “substantial doubt.” It lost $30.9 billion last year, is living on $13.4 billion in government loans, and is seeking up to $30 billion more to stay alive.
“If GM goes under, it’s going to make a lot of folks uneasy about where America is going,” said Bill Mather, 60, of Duluth. “I’d hate it. It’s like mom, apple pie and car companies. It’s part of who we are.”
Even Ford and Dodge loyalists, for whom Chevy is a weekly foil, said Sundays wouldn’t be the same without their most-loathed rival. Sixteen of Sunday’s 43 cars at the Hampton racetrack were Chevrolets.
“Maybe it’d be all right for Dodge, but I don’t think it’d be good for everybody else,” said David Laneve, 45, of Rossville, beside his red Dodge Charger. “It seems un-American.
“Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge — they’re just supposed to be there.”
Yet fans were split about how far Washington should go in bailing out GM, no matter what its effects on NASCAR.
“I have mixed feelings,” said Tom Highsmith, 36, of Tampa. “If they can’t keep themselves afloat, maybe they don’t deserve to be in NASCAR. It might change the sport. Lead to something better. Someone else might buy GM for pennies on the dollar and build it back up.”