He's the reason they have templates. Ol Smokey built a car that was scaled down 10%. No one ever noticed until one of the pit jockeys parked the back up car right next to it. Aero was new then, and a 10% reduction in drag was huge.
The cheats were rule bending genius.
Cars had to make a minimum weight. They'd stuff the frame rails with canvas bags of bird shot. Thru the race, the canvas would wear thru and the shot would pour out. Lighter cars go faster.
Now they weigh the cars after the race.
Fuel tank sizes were standardized. No rule on the fuel line though. One team made a fuel line so long that it looked like a still under the car. The extra half gallon wouldn't win every race, but it was an edge that could show up.
When in car cameras were brand new, one team removed the braces on the air intake at the base of the windshield. The intake size was regulated. By removing the braces the hood bowed at speed making it much larger.
The talking heads brought attention to it and the next week the braces were mandatory.
Once the manufacturers were out of the races (Win on Sunday, sell on Monday) and no longer had to build a minimum number of the racing model (Superbirds, Daytona Chargers etc) and they switched to the "Car of Tomorrow" NASCAR took a turn towards pro wrestling.
More about the driver drama than the cars, the strategy and tech.
When Ford reintroduced the Thunderbird, with it's then ground breaking aero shape, they owned and made Bill Elliot a hero.
Earnhardt was one that could adapt and overcome. He did poorly when they made the switch to radial tires. The old bias ply would gradually and consistently slide thru the corners (at 180mph ) but the radial would hang on and let then go at once. He had to, and did, relearn his driving style when others languished or retired.
He was the one that figured out how to take the air off the car in front's rear spoiler. He didn't have to bump them like in the pre aero days, all he had to do was get out halfway on the outside and take the air off his rear spoiler. That caused the car in front to get loose, remember the radials, and that driver had to momentarily lift allowing the big bad black #3 to go by keeping his momentum all the way.
End of an era when DE died.
I always loved that he referred to Jeff Gordon as "The Boy Wonder"