I didn’t see this one coming. A racing alliance? What’s that? What’s its purpose, and most of all, WHY?
The nine most powerful NASCAR car owners (Chip Ganassi, Rick Hendrick, Joe Gibbs, Richard Childress, Richard Petty, Jack Roush, Roger Penske and Joe Custer (for Stewart-Haas Racing) met and revealed last Monday that they formed an “alliance,” a common business partnership.
It seems to give those nine big organizations more of a say in how NASCAR runs and operates.
How the smaller teams are going to be affected isn’t very clear, although the RTA (Race Team Alliance) said that any team can join, and they are not closing membership possibilities to anyone.
Chairman of the RTA, Rob Kauffman (co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing), said “By working together and speaking with a single voice, it should be a simpler and smoother process to work with current and potential groups involved with the sport. Whether it be looking for industry-wide travel partners or collaborating on technical issues, the idea is to work together to increase revenue, spend more efficiently, and deliver more value to our partners.”
What exactly does that mean? Almost like a union (but not referred to as one), the RTA wants to be a negotiator. They want group rates instead of individual team rates.
NASCAR commented on the new alliance. President of NASCAR Mike Helton said that all communication must go through NASCAR’s lawyers. He said “I wanted to dispel the perception of animosity to start with and then back that up with saying we’re going to do business as usual. I think everybody in the garage area knows how we do our business and the role they play in it, and so we’ll continue to do it that way.”
Kauffman said “It’s not an animosity thing, it’s just a formality thing. NASCAR is a big company and they’re very sensitive legally. They’ve had experience and they want to be very formal and correct in the initial stages. … It’s understandable. Hopefully as time goes on and both sides get used to each other a little bit, those barriers (will) tend to go down. I think it will be fine.”
He continued, “If you’re a full-time team, trying to run full time, there’s a common set of issues around that. If you’re just going to do the Daytona 500 or one or two races, there’s nothing wrong with that, you just have a different set of issues probably. You’re going to have a lot of different things going on at the top of your list than a multi-car team trying to manage hundreds of people. So it’s just different.”
Is it a dictatorship? A monopoly?
Whatever comes of it, the Race Team Alliance has to be careful on how they tread this water. They can easily open themselves up to a lawsuit if they don’t handle this properly, and they realize that, which is why they already hired lawyers. NASCAR has their lawyers involved, too.
Does the new $8.2 billion dollar TV deal have anything to do with it? I definitely think so. The RTA will more than likely go after a bigger share of that.
Kauffman also noted that “To the extent the teams are more secure in their long-term future and have better business models, I think it just makes the sport stronger, where you can really afford to invest for the long-term, and not just survive year-to-year. I think there are a lot of positives there.”
So, in the coming months (it won’t happen overnight, that’s for sure), we will see how this all plays out. Anything can happen at this point, and it will be interesting which direction this goes, and where it takes the sport.