Another NASCAR team about to fold UPDATE #2 The doors are still open at PPI Motorsports, but the downsizing continues as owner Cal Wells laid off six employees on Wednesday and now has a staff of nine at his Hickory, N.C. shop.
The total will remain there for the time being but will be reduced to four by January unless a sponsor comes through to keep the No. 32 Nextel Cup team on the track in 2007.
Wells signed a contract with a company based in California's Silicon Valley back in June but said the company, which he wouldn't name, has changed its business philosophy and isn't ready to invest in motorsports at this time. Wells found that was tough to take after spending more than two years working with the company.
"We all checked them out - we did, NASCAR did - and we felt very good about it," Wells said Thursday. "We actually felt the type and style of sponsorship it was was going to be huge for NASCAR, huge for the tracks. We've taken them to [International Speedway Corp.] and [Speedway Motorsports Inc.] to negotiate track deals and put an immense amount of time in it.
"But at the end of the day, they just haven't done what they said they were going to do. When that happens [it's tough]. I just don't have the depth to keep spending the money [without sponsorship]. So I had to stop."
Wells said he's been able to place many of his employees with other teams, including Michael Waltrip Racing, saying, "very few of them" are on the unemployment line.
"There are a couple of folks that are looking at running a limited program [in '07], and we're just perfect," he said. "They could come in and start a new lease - our lease is up on the building, but the owners [really want] to have somebody in here. We're trying to work a deal where we can just hand the keys [to the shop] to somebody and lease back some office space."
Wells will keep four employees through January before deciding on the next step. And he hopes the sponsor eventually steps up to the plate.
"I'm really excited about this sponsor, too, I'm really excited," he said. "I hope someday it all works. But we've been carrying them now for a couple of months, and we just can't keep doing it. ... We're liquidating equipment and selling stuff off. But I'm not closing down.
"I'm keeping PPI as a business. I'm going to enter my number for next year. And I'm working on some other things that I can hopefully partner up or do something. I've still got some other deals out there cooking." Scenedaily.com
11/24/06 Sunday’s “Ford 400” at Homestead-Miami Speedway was likely the final ride for Cal Wells and his PPI Racing Team. Longtime sponsor Tide announced a few weeks ago that it will leave the team (and the sport) at the end of the season, and Wells has been unsuccessful in securing a new backer for his struggling Nextel Cup team. Sources close to the situation say Wells informed his employees that he will close the doors later this week, after a hoped-for sponsorship deal fell through. Motorsports Soapbox We hear the crew has been hired by Michael Waltrip Racing.
11/21/06 Rumor has it that NASCAR Nextel Cup PPI Motorsports owner Cal Wells -- who raced the No. 32 Tide ride the past five seasons --has laid off his staff and is in the process of selling his race cars after Proctor and Gamble pulled the plug on its Nextel Cup program. Wells, a former CART team owner turned NASCAR team owner has inquired about perhaps starting a Champ Car team again now that the costs are so much lower than a NASCAR program.