Saturday, January 7, 2012

Many NASCAR teams in worse sponsorship situation than when economy collapsed in 2008

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.

Red Bull Racing has fielded two cars since 2008, but it folded at the end of the 2011 season for financial reasons. TRG Motorsports won’t return in 2012 after fielding one full-time car for the past three seasons, and Front Row Motorsports, has yet to announce its plans for the upcoming season.

In addition, some of the big-time teams are cutting back, as well. Roush-Fenway Racing will run Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #6 car for the Daytona 500, but it currently doesn’t have any sponsorship for the race, and the #6 car could very well be shut down for the remainder of the season.

The #33 driven by Clint Bowyer for the past three seasons will cease to exist as Bowyer moves to the #15 car for Michael Waltrip Racing. Richard Petty Motorsports recently tabbed Aric Almirola to drive the #43 car, but it doesn’t have any sponsorship as of yet. Even Tommy Baldwin Racing’s two cars currently don’t have a sponsor.

All of these changes could lead to a season where less than 30 teams have sponsorship to run the entire schedule.

Last season 30 teams ran all 36 races. A few others attempted to run every race and didn’t qualify on time. However, this season there could be cars in the top 35 in the points standings that won’t have the money to show up at the track.

TV ratings improved in the 2011 season, and attendance numbers started to stabilize after several years of freefall. At least it appears fan interest in the sport has stabalized, if not started to grow once again.

Hopefully this is rock bottom and money will start flowing back into the sport throughout the 2012 season and years beyond. But, the current situation might be the toughest stretch NASCAR teams have ever faced.


  1. The BIG $ for sponsorships is no longer there. NASCAR needs to get back to their roots and the costs in check

  2. The cost to fund a full-time cup team has increased 10-fold in past 18 years. Time to park some of the jets, outrageos salaries and get back to basics. Nobody wants to pay for these salaries, perks, and technology that only serves to make the races more boring. I'd rather watch the local sportsman races

  3. Anonymous - While things seem to be pretty dire for a lot of the mid-major teams, I still think the money situation would have to get even worse for the big teams to cut back in those areas. If one team pays for something and it works, everybody else will pay for it to remain competitive.

  4. when teams want 20 million + a year to fund a team, I can see why the sponsors are backing out and not renewing their sponsorships.
    Maybe NASCAR should take LESSER CUT FROM their TV DEAL and CUT the AMOUNT OF MONEY THEY TAKE from the TRACKS to put on a race and GIVE IT TO THE TEAMS .

  5. Lets break it down to 5 teams contolling the action. What's left to sponser? Break up the "teams".

  6. All of this other stuff is just noise. The companies just can't see a value in stock car racing anymore. The internet offers much more value for the money.
    There is one megateam with plenty of money and sponsorship, so everyone else has to follow suit.
    Its a new world folks, might as well get used to it.

  7. the big money is spent trying to figure a way around the rules to get a advantage. also these drivers are paid too much money. they should run for a % of the purse and maybe you would see racing like tony did in the last chase race. we now know that drivers do not race because look what happen to carl playing it safe and racing for points all year. he thought the could win the cup just by points racing. to see more racing and passing NASCAR should pay maybe $1000 for every lap lead. why should someone win all the money for only leading just one lap the last one. you should have to want to lead every lap and not like now where there is no racing till the last 50 laps so why have 200 lap races. you can tell they are not racing because even the announcers state that so and so driver just turned his fastest lap later in the race

  8. So NASCARs answer is to increase costs by making the teams spend tens of thousands per car EFI ?????

  9. the car companies wanted FI so their engineers could work with FI not carbs which have not been used on production cars since the 80s.

  10. NASCAR would have better racing if they used the same engines they use in Grand Am sports car racing. they would not need restrictor plates at the big tracks because the engines are around 500 HP. you would see better racing at slower speed on all the tracks as the cars would not be on the very edge and the drivers could race side by side all the way around the track.

  11. Think of all the companies out there that do not sponsor NASCAR cars. How 'bout Google? Love to see them involved in NASCAR. They could sponsor the whole sport if they wanted. Apple; Microsoft; Goldman Sachs (and all the other Wall Street firms) aren't involved. My point is there are 100's if not 1000's of companies that aren't involved.
    Last year I couldn't believe how many times Roush ran Stenhouse and Bane unsponsored in Nationwide. Almost every week they ran White sponsors.

    I think these NASCAR teams need better sales and marketing teams. There's plenty of money out there. You just have to know where to look and how to get it. NASCAR teams need great Sales people.

  12. That Anonymous cat is one smart dude. He/She/They should buy NASCAR and run it their way!

  13. Yes there are companies with more than enough money to sponsor all of Nascar and its teams. But there is a reason they aren't. And its not from a lack of sales effort. Its that they dont see it as being worth it. Remember just because we love it doesn't mean everyone does.

    Also, I dont think the manufacturers were asking for an EFI system that is so antiquated that NObody uses any more. I dont think you will see one iota of difference this year.

  14. You want sponsors, take away the Coke drivers and have them sponser a car, the Young Guns of Gillette is another, NOS another, a few of the drivers are making all the money and could care less about the sport and its future.

  15. One of the comments made about the drivers making to much money is untrue. Some people say that NASCAR is not a sport and anyone can do it. All drivers make a percentage of winnings at end of each race according to their finish position. If Jimmie Johnson finished last like he'd did in the Daytona 500 he probably made 50 to 75 thousand or less after all expenses were paid. He did also take a pretty vicious hit which surprisingly he walked away from. My point is as compared to stick and ball sports where guys make 50 to 100 million dollars for five years is rediculous for one guy, and if he gets hurt he still gets his pay. So in perspective to that NASCAR drivers don't make squat compared to other sports and they are taking more risk.