“NASCAR shouldn’t allow teams to do such-and-such. Why doesn’t NASCAR do something about that?” say multitudes of race fans during the season.
Whenever NASCAR is analyzed among fans, they need to realize that sometimes the response is “NASCAR can’t.”
NASCAR has jurisdiction at the racetrack as far as procedures and rules. But the day-to-day internal handling of a race team has nothing to do with the sanctioning body. And there is no way for NASCAR to control how a team operates due to one aspect.
The “F” word.
Or lack thereof.
One can start a Cup Series team the same way one can start a team in any level of NASCAR right down to the local mini stock class. To quote a sporting goods company: “Just do it.”
For example, nobody can just up and start an NFL team on a whim. The league must grant an owner a franchise. Then there is quite a bit of control on how the team is handled running through the NFL.
Player’s minimum salaries, player’s labor unions, coaching contracts, negotiating policies, injury information releases, ownership restrictions, and marketing policies are just a handful of items that are governed through the National Football League.
NASCAR controls the procedures on the racetrack and at the speedway. NASCAR makes the rulebook and performs all technical inspections of cars and equipment. But when it comes to a race team, that is not their company. The team belongs to the owners. Run it how you see fit.
The Top 35 rule was put into place to, at the time, to ensure a high level sponsor had a starting position in the Cup race on Sunday. It also had a second purpose. The rule added value to a race team with guaranteed starting positions. This is a sellable factor to a potential sponsor or new buyer.
The value of a team is increased beyond the tangible assets such as tool boxes, scale pads, welders, and all the other equipment that fills a team shop.
When a race team is sold and liquefied an owner winds up with pennies on the dollar for what he has spent. And there is no return for the blood, sweat, tears, stress, sacrifice, and emotional investment. Ask Bud Moore, Sam Ard, or Bobby Allison.
Stick-and-ball franchising has a value well beyond the physical property. Naming, marketing and broadcast profits come along with purchasing a ball club. The NFL is currently in the midst of a $20.4 billion television contract that runs through 2011. The players have a $310,000 minimum annual salary.
In 2005 NASCAR announced their new eight-year, $4.8 billion TV contract. That money did not reach the shop workers in a way a football roster’s salaries are filled with TV money. There are backmarker teams paying workers three to four hundred dollars weekly. In some cases volunteers fill out car building positions.
But the lack of race team franchising allows for freedom to think outside the box in order to win. Such as the pitcrew swap in mid-race at Texas between the Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson teams that stirred up so much debate among the racing fans.
Was it acceptable because it was swapping one teammate for another under the Hendrick Motorsports umbrella? Or was it a snake oil salesman writing another invoice? There is no NASCAR rule or policy preventing the Hendrick maneuver. It was perfectly legal. That still did not sit well with fans clinging to what they felt was integrity.
That is the difference between franchising and privately owned companies. NASCAR controls the car rules and how races are organized. Team owners run their business just as you and I would. And by our own decisions for what we think is best for us.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR team mechanic who hosts "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunionradio.com)
A NASCAR Thanksgiving
November 15, 1992
Earnhardt's First Championship
Wave the Checkered under Green
Old School and New School Interviews
Richie Evans Gone 25 years
How would NO Chase look?
Nervous Season For NASCAR Crewmembers
The Chase? No Thanks.
Stock Car and Drag Crews Work Hard
Better to be Bowyer or McMurray?
Weeknight Cup Racing
Nationwide or Late Model Sportsman?
Racing In Night and Day
5 Bristol Dream Races
Mass Engine Confiscations
2010 Chase Drivers Will Be...
Start and Parkers Race at The Glen
Road Course In The Chase?
Track Position Beats 4 Tires
Rubbin' is NOT Racing
Look For Jamie And Chip When The $ Is Big
Young Guns? No Thanks.
Superstar By Day, Dad At Night
Stock Cars That Look Like Street Cars