From the early 1970s until the car’s end of production in 1988, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo campaigned in NASCAR racing. Richard Petty’s Dodge and Plymouths dominated the early ’70s until Cale Yarborough brought his Monte Carlos to three-straight Championships (1976-1978) in the Winston Cup. In 1980, NASCAR mandated a move to the shorter 110-inch wheelbase cars being built by Detroit.
Chevrolet answered with a shorter Monte Carlo. The 1981 and 1982 “flat-nose” Monte was raced by few teams and only won two races in those years. In 1983, the addition of the SS nose became the Monte Carlo body style used in NASCAR until the car went out of production.
The year 1986 was the turning point for the Monte. The car that made Dale Earnhardt. While Big E had already won a Championship in 1980, he was unstoppable in the famous black number 3 Monte Carlo Aerodeck. Despite the rough start to the 1980s, the Monte Carlo ultimately won 7 Winston Cup Championships in the decade.
The model took a hiatus from 1989-1994, but returned for the 1995 season with the fifth-generation body. NASCAR allowed the car to have wider rear quarter panels, and as such, deviated from factory sheet metal. The 1995 body style was also a favorite and enjoyed considerable success at the track. The car captured several NASCAR Manufacturers Cup awards until it was again discontinued from production in 2007 and replaced by the Impala for racing.
As a side note, according to Darrell Waltrip, the Monte Carlo had a great map light.