An alternate reality based in fact.
USAC ran a concurrent stock car racing series in the Midwest beginning under AAA sanction that they picked up in 1955 and continued until its end in 1984 when it essentially folded into ARCA. Champions of the series included the likes of Marshall Teague, Fred Lorenzen, Paul Goldsmith, Parnelli Jones, and A.J. Foyt. The cars would seem instantly familiar to anyone who paid attention to Nascar in the same time window, but what if – given USAC’s longstanding ties to the Indy 500 – the rules had been different in one specific way?
What if USAC stock car racing had kept everything the same except instead of the usual stock car engines, they had diverged into using Indy-type engines? Smaller cubic inch and turbocharged. Durability may have been a problem pushing such heavy cars around on such high-strung engines, but if compelled to do it, suitable tuning should have found its own level.
It’s 1969 and there are Ford Fairlanes with the Blue Oval’s Indy Turbo V8s. The odd privateer, including the not-so-private Smokey Yunick who is getting back-door parts from Warren, MI, have turbo SBC Chevelles. Not to be out done, before being promoted in February of that year to the Chevrolet Division, John Delorean had been secretly helping a couple of teams develop methanol fueled lay-down turbo Offenhausers to go in the newest GTOs. They were every bit as fast as the big-block cars running in the southeast, but had a totally different sound and plenty of exhaust flames, particularly at the dirt track dates as drivers rolled in and out of the throttle while sliding around.
I wonder what stock car racing would have evolved like had this been the case and what the feeders to Indy would have been. Sadly we will never know for certain, but Steve Strope’s Fairlane shown in the Jay Leno Garage feature gives a little glimpse into this alternate reality even though it is powered by the 428 SOHC Cammer and the Black ’62 Ford Falcon at the bottom is the real deal with the DOHC Ford Indy V8!