No harm done by Car and Driver’s fake story

Published 3:53 pm Thursday, April 2, 2009

Denny Darnell, who does public relations for Dodge’s motor sports programs, told USA Today Wednesday “I’ve been in this business more than 30 years, and I have never seen a story so irresponsible.”

Darnell’s comments, and the outrage of NASCAR fans across the country, was directed towards Car and Driver magazine’s April Fools’ prank.

The credible automotive magazine reported on its Web site Wednesday that Dodge and Chevrolet would be forced out of NASCAR at the end of the 2009 season by President Obama because the companies have received and are requesting more federal bailout money.

The story reported the savings to the two companies—General Motors and Chrysler—would have reportedly saved a combined $250 million in the NASCAR pull out.

The magazine later pulled the story and offered an apology—saying they “went too far.”

I will have to admit I bought into the story Wednesday—believing that the starting lineup at next year’s Daytona 500 would be made up of Toyotas, Hyundais and Fords. The absence of the “bowtie” logo would have been pretty tough to swallow—even though I do drive a Ford.

I spent most of the day helping pass along this fake story after hearing it on sports radio. I told fellow co-workers that it was going to be tough seeing Dale Jr. in the No. 88 Hyundai Sonata going around Talladega.

I bought it—hook, line and sinker.

Car and Driver got us all, but in my opinion no harm was done. No one was seriously injured, hurt or even scratched in the publishing of the fake story online.

Should the company have done it? No. But, I bet you their Web site traffic Wednesday went through the roof.

I have been a NASCAR fan for only a portion of my life, becoming a fan after going to a fall Talladega race in 2001.

Now, I look forward to race weekends—enjoying the 400- or 500-mile races from the comfort of my couch. The ticket is less expensive and lines for the concession stand and bathrooms are much shorter.

I’ll admit that I fell into Car and Driver’s April Fools’ trap Wednesday, but you have to applaud the gall for messing with such a rabid fan base.