Hyundai and Kia excite buyers with racing success
For much of the past century auto-racing in America by the established automakers has served two purposes. First, it gives the automakers a way to shine a light on their cars. This is known as the halo effect. Buyers (mainly men?) follow the racing sports and they mentally make a connection with their favorite team and auto-maker. Win on Sunday (when viewers and spectators around the country watch the races) and sell on Monday, when those fans go to buy their next family car, is an age old truth. Second, the automakers claim, perhaps with some sincerity, that the things they learn racing about durability can later find its way into your driveway. True or not, it gives the automakers an excuse to be involved with motorsports.
The problem for the Asian and European automakers is that they missed the memo that NASCAR would become America’s favorite racing series. That hasn’t kept them out of racing, and may even have benefited them, since NASCAR racing cars have absolutely nothing to do with the brands whose name they wear. Honda has done very well with Indy Car engines and even found itself a sponsor for Talladega Raceway as a generator supplier to keep its name in racing. For years Subaru was the car that came to mind when someone said “rally car.” Mazda is known and loved by SCCA and many other racers for their Miata. Now Hyundai and Kia are both finding ways to get their cars into racing.