Chevrolet hosted a media event last weekend at Pocono Raceway to gather excitement for the company's 17 NASCAR drivers hitting the race track and its 13 new products coming to showrooms this year.
The event centered on the technology transference between racecars and domestic vehicles, particularly, the 2013 NASCAR Chevrolet SS. This racecar is a modified version of the 2014 Chevrolet SS sports sedan and both cars feature a small block V-8 and rear-wheel drive as well as sharing a similar body style.
"What we learn on the race track helps us design," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet's vice president of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports.
The SS racecar debuted at the Daytona 500 back in February where Chevrolet NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson took first place. Johnson had similar success while driving the SS in the Pocono 400 and once again claimed the top seat. Johnson beat out 4-time Pocono 400 winner, Jeff Gordon, who had been picked to win by Pocono Raceway president and CEO, Brandon Igdalsky.
Another Chevrolet NASCAR driver, Kasey Kahne spoke about his experiences racing for Chevrolet and Hendrick Motor Sports during the event.
Kahne won first place at Bristol this year and placed second at Charlotte. He placed 36th in the Pocono 400 after he experienced car trouble midrace and spent more than 20 laps having his car inspected by his team.
At the Chevrolet media event, Kahne was signaled to enter the presentation area and begin addressing the crowd. No one came.
Kahne had been distracted by the 2014 Corvettes on display nearby and had missed his cue.
"What color (Corvette)?," an audience member asked Kahne as he hurried to his spot. But, Kahne shot back, "Nah, I was looking at the SS." Another audience member shouted ,"Smart boy!," and a genuine smile spread across the 33-year-old driver's face.
Jokes aside, Kahne became serious as he spoke of the dynamics of the Pocono Raceway track and his racing career so far.
"For me, turn one is a lot more banked than the other corners," said Kahne as he explained where to downshift and break on the particular track.
Kahne pointed out his favorite areas to gather speed and elements that affect a race besides the racecar. For instance, the Pocono track was repaved for the 2012 season and, as a result, is slicker than a less recently paved track.
The Pocono Mountain raceway track is a triangular-oval track that is 2.5 miles long with 6-14 banking. Like the name suggests, the Pocono 400 covers 400 miles in 160 laps. The track is nicknamed the "Tricky Triangle" as its three turns are more severe than turns typically found on tri-oval race tracks.
On Friday, Kahne displayed excitement despite the rainy conditions.
"I'm looking forward to (the race). I like racing up here and with the new car, I think this year will be even better," said Kahne.
While Kahne and the Chevrolet SS race car stole the spotlight, the event was actually in honor of Chevrolet's 2014 Impala.
Charlie Walsh, sales manager of Rentschler Chevrolet in Slatington said that in comparison to the 2013 Impala, the newer model had been "redesigned from bumper to bumper."
According to Walsh, consumers' opinions shape the designs of new cars.
"If you are as a consumer say, 'Gee, wouldn't it be nice if (the car) had one of these?' and enough (consumers) say that, it will start showing up in cars," said Walsh.
In addition to presentations, the event included a brief visit to the Adam Petty garage and two opportunities to see the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado perform.
Chevrolet is heralding its 2014 Silverado as an upgrade of its earlier model.
"In the beginning, there was truck and truck was good but not enough," joked Chevrolet representative John Marshall.
Dealers and members of the media were given the chance to drive a 2014 Silverado hitched with a trailer on a short, dirt-road track. As the Times News representative, I climbed into the driver's seat and asked Malcolm, the all-American type young man assisting me in the truck, how to move the seat up. After adjusting the seat to a position suitable for my 5'4 frame, I was off.
If Malcolm was laughing as I gunned it down the straightaway and admittedly rolled through a stop sign on the course, I couldn't hear him. The sounds of the truck roaring over ditches and splashing through mud were louder. After a series of zigzag turns, the ride was over and I attempted to park the truck and trailer. This task proved to be easier said than done.
"It's OK, that cone deserved it," teased Malcolm when an orange safety cone fell victim to my back wheel.
This time, Malcolm's laughter rang out loud and clear. Motor sports technology might have redesigned Chevrolet's vehicles, but consumers will find that NASCAR-level driving skills are not included in the showroom package.