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Published March 26, 2023
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Former NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip sold his Jeep Wrangler Sahara to EchoPark, so that someone else could become its happy owner.
It’s finally here – the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.
NASCAR drivers will take on the twists and turns of Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, March 26, and there’s loads of Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series racing and fan events going on Friday through Sunday. Catch the EchoPark Grand Prix at 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM.
The roar of those engines, the thrilling lead changes and the winding Formula One track may get you thinking about hitting the gas, feeling the rush of acceleration and turning heads in an aerodynamic sports car (or maybe a powerful truck). Is it time for a NASCAR-inspired ride? Let’s take a look at some popular contenders.
First on our list of NASCAR cars you can own is the Jeep Wrangler Sahara.
Yes, it’s true. And it’s not just any Jeep Wrangler, but NASCAR-great Michael Waltrip’s 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited. It was Waltrip’s getaway car when he borrowed someone’s unsuspecting Irish Setter named Rocky at Daytona Beach because he felt his Jeep needed a dog…but that’s a whole other story. Hear Waltrip tell it:
By the time you read this, it’s possible Waltrip’s Jeep Wrangler could already be sold, offered as a promotion during the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR weekend. But you’re probably intrigued by the Rocky story and want a Jeep Wrangler for you and your dog now, so here are some highlights.
While you won’t be racing in a Jeep Wrangler, you could definitely do some rock climbing, with the Wrangler’s legendary off-road prowess. Engine options abound, with the base 285-horsepower Pentastar V6; 270-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder; 470-horsepower Hemi V8; V6 diesel.
The Sahara trim is only offered in the four-door Jeep body style and includes an 8.4-inch touch screen, navigation, a Wi-Fi hot spot, HD Radio, a nine-speaker stereo, automatic climate control and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Competent, reliable and dependable are words commonly used to describe a capable sedan like the Toyota Camry. Words that maybe don’t exactly get your heart pumping like a bump up in the last lap at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
While you won’t find NASCAR’s Camry, with rear-wheel drive and a V8, at your local EchoPark, you’ll likely find the 4-cylinder and V6s in stock. The Camry’s 4-cylinder, 204-horsepower engine is peppy enough, but for a few extra thrills during the daily commute, opt for the 301-horsepower V6 (something close rival Honda Accord doesn’t offer) with the TRD trim. The available V6 and available all-wheel drive put it ahead of competitors like the Honda Accord. The TRD is the top (and raciest) Camry trim and comes with front sport seats, a fixed rear seat, aluminum sport pedals and a TRD-tuned suspension. Unlike the Camrys of old, a 2018 redesign made the Camry much more fun to drive, according to Car and Driver. Responsive handling and a comfortable ride round out driver enjoyment.
Fast, agile and comfortable – words used by enthusiasts to describe an American icon and track superstar.
Several potent powertrains are available for 2022 models of the Ford Mustang: a turbocharged four-cylinder that puts out 310 or 330 horsepower; a 460- or 480-horsepower V8; or the wildest Mustang of them all, a supercharged V8 pumping out 760 horsepower in the GT500 model (discontinued for 2023). Since we’re talking about speed here, the GT500 has a top speed of 180 mph and is equipped with a race-inspired chassis and suspension, high-performance tires and Brembo brakes.
The Mustang is available as a coupe or convertible. For 2022 models, there are four performance packages to up the excitement and nine appearance packages to turn heads (racing stripes, anyone?) The back seat is cramped but the trunk is one the largest in the sports car class.
Launched in 1966 to compete with the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro is another beloved pony car.
Most Camaro models offer a lot of engine power without breaking the bank, including a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with 275 horsepower; 3.6-liter V6 with 335 horsepower; or a 6.2-liter V8 with 455 horsepower. Most drivers will find these engines more than adequate, with precise handling adding to the thrill factor. Poor rear visibility and small rear seats are cons, but probably not a huge concern for someone in the market for a pony car.
If you’re looking to spend a lot of coin for a high-performance, track-ready sports car, opt for the ZL1 model, with 6.2-liter supercharged V8 with 650 horsepower. With the 1LE track package, this model roars ahead of the pack with a dual-mode exhaust system, Brembo four-piston front brakes, a performance suspension, heavy-duty cooling and a limited-slip differential.
Have a propensity for power rather than a need for speed?
The Toyota TRD Pro you’ll find racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is powered by a V8. The Toyota Tundra for non-NASCAR drivers was redesigned in 2022. While there’s no V8 available, the 389-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 base engine and optional 437-horsepower hybrid powertrain that combines the twin-turbo V6 with an electric motor provide adequate power for accelerating, towing and off-roading.
The street-legal TRD Pro trim is the best off-roader among the 2022 model’s six trims. It includes standard four-wheel drive, an off-road suspension, Fox shocks, high-strength fuel tank and transfer case covers, an off-road camera (Multi-Terrain Monitor), crawl control and a locking rear differential.
Dodge isn’t currently a part of NASCAR, but it’s hard to ignore the whiplash-inducing power and speed of two popular Dodge models – the four-door Charger and Challenger coupe. Except for body style, these two muscles cars have much in common under the hood. Both have a base 3.6-liter V6 engine with 292 horsepower and an available a 5.7-liter V8 with 370 horsepower and (R/T) or 6.4-liter V8 with 485 horsepower (Scat Pack), capable of 0-60 in 4.2 seconds.
And then, Dodge takes muscle to a whole other level with the track-ready 717-horsepower Hellcat, 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye and an 807-horsepower monster known as the Hellcat Super Stock in the Challenger and Hellcat Jailbreak in the Charger.
Sadly, these brawny muscle cars will leave us in the dust for good after 2023, but word on the street is that they’ll be back in electrified versions.
Ready to start the engine of a new-to-you ride? Our Experience Guides will love talking horsepower and 0-60 mph stats and can’t wait to take you on a test drive, so start browsing online or visit us in-store today.