For shots across the bow, we see heavier bullets.
But the opposite fire is the opposite fire, so pay attention to its existence, even if it only feels like a warning shot.
The leading NASCAR teams, under the framework of the Race Team Alliance, have put forward the strategy that they are looking for the possibility of organizing their own exhibition races at the beginning of the year from now.
That’s a decent little spark, I say.
According to a report last week in sports organizations – the world’s favorite for such things – sports business magazine – the RTA has hired a marketing agency to “explore competition opportunities in exhibitions, both domestically and internationally.”
The request is considered “more research.”
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And very interesting, given what it signals.
NASCAR’s current network television deal – a cash-flow that fueled much of the parade – runs through 2024 and the big teams have said the old way, which is still the way it is now, can no longer be the only way.
The long-held television money split is 65% to the track, 25% to the team, 10% to NASCAR.
That 25% never paid extra for the team, who always filled the gap with corporate support from large companies. And some small ones. They say 60 to 80% of their racing budget comes from beating those bushes.
Racing is not cheap. If you want to race the front, it’s cheaper. You want to race up front on America’s biggest stage, you’re talking about an eight-figure budget per car.
So RTA leaders have been talking to NASCAR about changing the split so they don’t have to spend so much of their time acting like congressmen – shaking trees and shaking hands, looking for donations. Instead of offering favorable legislation, they propose positioning the logo on the protective wall and meet and greet with Joe Racer at your company’s next wellness retreat.
NASCAR teams don’t run on gas alone
In the abstract, the team is doing it themselves. No one is forcing them to open a fresh can of engineers, add another 10,000 square feet to the store, or find a super nice upgraded truck they bought three. They can take their televisions and purses and live within their means.
But in reality, there is a scoreboard, and it still pays more – more – to be on the north end of that board than the south. And it costs more to get there. The lump dollar is old gold.
When negotiations with NASCAR did not progress at a reasonable pace, some RTA leaders – including Jeff Gordon, now vice president of Hendrick Motorsports – went to the media to discuss their concerns and possibly help start serious negotiations about changing the network’s revenue sharing. .
Apparently, the common ground is still understood, which has led to this recent discussion of a potential exhibition competition, independent of NASCAR.
First, you want to say, “Good luck trying that job.” With so much to do with the production of big-league racing cars, it’s hard to imagine it being profitable, much less the financial windfall teams need to keep the lights and top-speed cars.
Didn’t Tony Stewart’s SRX show it could be done?
But then you realize that there is already a non-NASCAR entity – Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) – that has been running a six-race, televised network for the past two summers, with a major league name.
And one of the owners of the SRX series is Tony Stewart, who is a co-owner of the NASCAR team and is part of the Race Team Alliance. What’s more, Tony spent a lot of time this past season personally upset (to put it nicely) with NASCAR.
You create dissonance when your team is fined $300,000 in one week, regardless of the legitimacy of the suspension.
If the excavation findings lead the RTA to proceed with off-season racing operations, its pit staff will surely include a lawyer or three, as this could certainly be caught in the fine print category.
So far, NASCAR is relying on cost savings to make things easier on the teams. The team says it’s not enough and they want more TV money.
The guess here is, the compromise will include some kind of soft cost, along with team-friendly TV sharing.
Men like Tony Stewart and Roger Penske have spent much of their lives in the Midwest. They know where to find the walking wounded who didn’t fully survive the Indy-car wars of the 1990s — hollow-eyed, angry, or both.
Surely there are enough memories still around to force any sane person to avoid a repeat of that history.
— Contact Ken Willis at [email protected]