Many NASCAR teams in worse sponsorship situation than when economy collapsed
UPDATE That number does not include some teams that folded during the offseason (such as Red Bull), some smaller outfits (such as Front Row Motorsports) and some that decided not to test (such as JTG Daugherty Racing). NASCAR President Mike Helton said he didn't think the number of teams participating in the test portended short fields for the regular season.
|Robin Pemberton, Vice President of Competition for NASCAR, Mike Helton, President of NASCAR and John Darby, Managing Director for NASCAR, address the media|
|Getty Images for NASCAR|
"I think there is a good deal more activity out there than is represented by testing and some of the other things," he said, "and the fact that there will be in excess of 43 cars trying to make the Daytona 500 ... and we've been through cycles, particularly when we get to the June, July stretch, where we may only have 43 cars show up at the race track. But I don't see us going below 43 this year. I may be surprised, but I think just knowing the chatter and the conversations that we've had with race teams and organizations that either have participated or are going to participate, that we'll have full fields." NASCAR.com
01/08/12 NASCAR teams entered the 2009 season with a bleak outlook in financial and sponsorship terms, but the outlook for this season doesn’t look any better.
In fact, it might be worse.
As the 2008 NASCAR season came to a close, the United States economy was on the verge of disaster, and its struggles quickly affected NASCAR teams.
Many teams had to lay off large parts of their staff, and the Sprint Cup Series went from having nearly 43 fully funded teams to questions about whether enough cars would show up on a race weekend to fill the field.
It turned out that every race still had a full field, but more and more teams showed up to run just the first few laps in a race and then head home while collecting the prize money. Even then, cars with mostly full sponsorship packages filled the top 35 guaranteed spots in a race.
Now cars that finished last season in the Chase might not even have full sponsorship for the 2012 season. Matt Kenseth, who finished fourth in the points standings last year, has sponsorship lined up for less than half of the season so far.
Several teams are still looking to put together a sponsorship package to fund the entire season, and other teams have completely shut down.
Not only is the economy still struggling, but so are many of the teams in NASCAR, from the Camping World Truck Series to the Sprint Cup Series. When a “Lifetime Sponsorship” such as DuPont actually fades to become only a part time sponsorship on a car driven by a four time Champion and Chase Contender, you know times are getting tough. Many teams have already done their hiring for the 2012 season, and finding room at the inn at this late date will be more than just a challenge for many of those just laid off by RWI.
I have heard there are as many as 500 unemployed former NASCAR wrench-turners in the greater Charlotte area due to the recent cut backs and shuttering of teams. That is a lot of men and women looking for work in a suddenly shrinking sport.