The tide is turning quickly in NASCAR. First we went from the traditional one car team all the way through to todays super teams, with many of the major teams running many cars in various series. Some are very diversified like Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi, running very different cars in completely different series, while others have stayed close to home running cars in the various NASCAR type series.
The latest trend in the move from team to topline professional sports organization is for teams to look outside of their traditional roots, to the more established professional sports, and in particular sports marketing organizations. These days it is just not enough to have an in house sponsorship group, the amounts of money required to maintain a topline NASCAR operation seemed to have outgrown that, now you need more.
Recent entry to the big leagues of NASCAR is property developer Bobby Gin. He looked at NASCAR, liked what he thought and then jumped in boots and all, buying existing teams, and adding new ones. He had people in place to work on the sponsorship side of the business, and they seemed to have found the necessary funding. It is only recently that we find out that the funding was not really in place, it seems the team went forward with some promises from companies, but those never materialized, leaving the Ginn Racing teams funding to be picked up by their parent companies, not the perfect model for the team owner wanting to run a successful fully funded team.
Other team owners like Jack Roush, Richard Childress and now Ray Evernham and even Richard Petty have, or are trying to find partners to secure the longer term future of their teams and organizations. The theory behind these mergers seems to be to combine each team with a powerful outside organization, which in theory will help spread the teams tentacles to reach out to work with these partner organizations to put together and expand very strong partnerships with their sponsors.
There can be a lot of synergies with these new organizations. For instance with the Roush and the Fenway organization, who own the Boston Red Sox there can be all sorts of crossover, both have big fan bases, both have a long and rich hostory in their respective sports, and of course both have been out there selling their organization to sponsors for many years. Working together they will have more than twice the power of a single organization, and together will be able to offer corporate sponsors a unique opportunity to be involved in two topline sports for one price. Talk about value for money!
One team that is not so far expressing a desire to bring on other partners is Hendrick Motorsport. With Dale Earnhardt Jr spending many months talking with DEI about an ownership role, it was assumed by many that he would take an ownership role in whatever team he went to, but it wasn’t to be. There was no mention of ownership at Hendrick for Dale Jr, and it probably will not happen, however the door must be open for Jr Motorsports, Dale Jr’s own team to become a Hendrick satellite operation, similar to the relationship between RCR and Harvick teams.
No-one knows right now if these partnerships are good or bad for NASCAR, but the wheels of NASCAR turn so fast, and forward progress is a must to survive, so you can bet we will see more and more alliances with well established sports organizations in the coming months and years.