France hopes manufacturers continue to play a role
NASCAR Chairman Brian France concedes General Motors' decision to scale back its funding of racing teams will hurt, but he remains confident manufacturers will continue to play an important role in NASCAR's future.
“Obviously, everything they’re doing, every program is being affected and we’re no different,” France said before Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway. “We were hoping to have the most minimal of the impact with the decision to restructure their business and the details aren’t all out yet, but obviously, we are affected.
GM has discontinued funding for teams in NASCAR’s Nationwide and Truck series. GM officials are expected to meet with Sprint Cup teams on Wednesday to discuss what - if any - cuts will be made to those organizations, sources told the Observer and ThatsRacin.com.
“I’m very confident they’ll be in (NASCAR) for many, many years because it works well - but obviously under different terms.”
France also seemed open to involvement in the future by other manufacturers and said some - which he declined to name - had expressed interest, particularly those trying to break into the North American market.
Under NASCAR rules, only cars manufactured in the U.S. are eligible to compete. Toyota joined the truck series in 2004 and, in 2007, became the first foreign manufacturers to compete NASCAR's the elite Cup series in 50 years.
"We'll have our philosophical approach to that in terms of welcoming new companies in as we did with Toyota," France added. "It is under a very clear set of circumstances that the manufacturers come to NASCAR to compete. And that will not change."
France said NASCAR will do whatever it can to help its teams, tracks and sponsors get through the tough economic times.
"The question is, with falling revenues in every sports league, what are you going to do to help to figure out the way forward?" France said. "For us, we have a huge interest in the sponsorship model. We're more dependent on it than anyone else. So we're affected."