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New Monte Carlo ready for wind-tunnel testing
GM official says car is close to meeting NASCAR specs
'99 News
Mike Mulhern

Talladega, Ala. (April 25, 1999)
Terry Laise, General Motors' chief NASCAR aerodynamics expert, says that Tuesday's wind-tunnel test of Chevrolet's new 2000 Monte Carlo could be critical.

Since the Cracker Barrel 500 in Atlanta in mid-March, Laise has been busy trying to redesign GM's new model to meet NASCAR specs. He'll get another chance to see what NASCAR's Gary Nelson and Mike Helton think of his work on Tuesday in the Lockheed wind tunnel in Marietta, Ga.

''We're continuing to try to refine the Monte Carlo to meet the goals NASCAR wants, and we're there, and we're hoping to get approval in the next couple of weeks,'' Laise said. ''They gave us another target to meet, different than they gave us before, and we think we're ready to meet it.

''But I'm very apprehensive, very apprehensive. Meeting their target is wonderful, but if meeting their target means the car can't be competitive, then I'm not sure how we can convince our race teams to use it.''

The Monte Carlo 2000 debate comes while Ford officials are laying tentative plans for their new NASCAR Taurus for next season.

There are two ways NASCAR officials might deal with the Monte Carlo-Taurus situation: one, delay the Monte Carlo even longer until Ford teams have their new Taurus 2000 sheet metal for comparison; two, clear the Monte Carlo as quickly as possible, and then move on to the Ford.

''That's a fair assessment of the two strategies that I would think of,'' Laise said. ''And we are approaching this with the idea that they would probably approve our car and then hold the Ford performance to be relatively equal to us.

''Of course, it's always better to be the last guy approved. And we've had cars approved as late as November and December, and still made Daytona. But that's usually just some fine details, with the main parts of the car approved by September and October.

''But this way would give our guys the chance to work with the car some (the rest of this year in testing).

''Ford teams are in a funny dilemma because the Taurus is changing fairly substantially in the production car next year,'' Laise said. ''But the Taurus race car doesn't relate in any way, shape or form to their production car. So clearly a logical strategy would be to try to change the race car in areas that the new car would suggest an improvement, but not to change it in areas where it would suggest it would hurt the performance.

''So, in a lot of ways, their best strategy would be to back away from doing much. Initially, it looks like there should be a lot of change, because the new Taurus, from the photos I've seen, is going to have a new nose, a new hood, a new roof, a new deck, a new tail. From a racing point of view, that's everything.

Laise said that, according to his research, One of the new features Ford is mentioning is improved rear-seat room for passengers, which, Laise said, implies raising the sloughed off corners of the rear roof.

''And of course, that is something they would not want to do, because that would definitely not be good for racing,'' he said. ''However, NASCAR has assured me that what they approve for Ford and what they approve for us will be equally competitive on the race track. That's the tone they're trying to set with us. And we have to trust that NASCAR will do that.''