Today’s news that Roger Penske has entered into an agreement with General Motors to purchase the Saturn brand has got me thinking about the possibilities. Saturn is a brand that makes very good cars, quality wise. What they lack is an image that people can recognize. To describe the Saturn brand is actually difficult. Is it quality? Is it safety? Who knows?
What we do know, is that “The Captain” believes in racing as a marketing tool. Perhaps the two could be merged to give a soulless quality automobile like Saturn the passionate backing of racing fans in NASCAR or Indy Car? Indy Car might be pure fantasy due to the research and development necessary to compete on the engine side of things, especially with a new engine spec coming soon. I’m not sure even Roger’s pockets are that deep. But in NASCAR, there is something to think about.
The excitement generated by a new American manufacturer that is owned by a racing legend would be a great story by itself. A Saturn win in NASCAR could be the first American triumph in this new, leaner, meaner, post recession world. Patriotic NASCAR fans would see the entry as an investment in the future of our country, NASCAR and auto racing in general.
There are some complications. The economy is still on the rocks and most people don’t have jobs, cash or available credit to buy cars, yet. (Otherwise I’d be buying a Pontiac G-8 or a Chevy Camaro) Also, the engine could be an issue. Since Saturn is a former GM product, but no longer, a deal would have to be worked out to allow the Penske Saturn’s to run the GM Corporate engine. This might require some twisting of the rules, something NASCAR has proven willing to do in the past if it will ultimately help the sport. Since we’re just considering the possibilities, I’d love to see Kurt Busch driving the Penske Saturn at Daytona in 2011. An entry in NASCAR could help the manufacturer, NASCAR and our country. That sounds like everybody wins to me. Of course, it’s not that easy. Maybe, Penske wants to market Saturn to a different demographic or move in a different direction all together. Until we know for sure, I can’t help but think about the positive stories attached to this optimistic move. If there has been a sign that the future is bright, Penske’s investment in this car company is it.