Everything is on the line for Spire Motorsports owners Jeff Dickerson and TJ Puchyr.
“We have to [make a profit],” Dickerson said. “We have to eat. Hendrick Motorsports’ old mantra was ‘refuse to lose.’ When you look at it from a Jeff and TJ perspective, it’s ‘can’t afford to lose.’”
The duo are among the youngest team owners in NASCAR’s premier division, and their investment in the sport is extensive. Just two years ago, the pair took out a $6 million loan to purchase a Cup Series charter. Now, they are ready to take the next step.
Spire recently announced the purchase of Leavine Family Racing’s Cup Series charter and the single-car team’s assets, which will go into effect at season’s end. The price is unknown, but the deal is reportedly several million dollars.
“We did this for three reasons,” Dickerson said. “One is that charter values are going up. We wanted to buy in at the right time — at least for us. Two is real estate — we needed a building. With a new car coming with lots of new variables and a new model, it’s one less headache. We wanted to expand no matter what. Our goal has always been to be a two or three-car team.”
Spire’s No. 77 squad will move into Leavine Family Racing’s Concord, N.C. shop in late November or early December as it expands to two cars. Spire, however, will not receive the cars LFR has been using in 2020, which is part of that group’s alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Christopher Bell. JGR announced Bell will move over to the No. 20 car, leaving Erik Jones without a ride, just after LFR announced it was shutting down.
“Next year, we’re going to do a mock run for the Gen 7,” Dickerson said. “We can start getting our people in place. We’re going to screw up and we’re going to do it a lot. Next year is the best year to do it as we head into the new car and model in 2022.
“The next generation car is more of a metaphor for how NASCAR is going to change the business. It’s not just a car. What we’re banking on is a real shift in how business is done and how cars and teams are run.”
But 2021 will be a working year in progress for Spire, no matter who drives the team’s two cars. They will keep some of Leavine’s employees, and the new shop means they can do things on their own, rather than relying on the smaller Premium Motorsports.
“We have experience doing this, but we might need the starter set,” Dickerson said. “We have the discipline to stay on a plan. Just like every other organization in this sport, we’re only going to go as fast as our sponsors allow us to.” More at Forbes