Belt-Tightening Is The New Racing Reality
By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
Nashville – Bobby Hamilton Jr. says the tough economic times have forced some NASCAR teams to confront some belt-tightening reality.
“A lot of teams got fat and spoiled back when times were good, and now they’re having to learn to live within their means,” Hamilton said during last weekend’s race at Nashville Superspeedway.
“In the case of my team, we’re staying in cheaper hotels and cutting down on flying. If a race is eight hours or closer, we drive. We now fly only to races that are further away than that.”
Hamilton said cutting down on travel expenses and eliminating luxuries such as million-dollar motor homes can slice a Nationwide Series team’s expenses in half. He said a $5-6 million annual budget can be trimmed to less than $3 million.
“I think this year’s dose of cold reality woke up a lot of people in our sport,” Hamilton said. “We’re learning how to race on a tighter budget.”
After being sidelined for most of the season due to lack of sponsorship, Hamilton has found new life with a new team.
“It feels great to get back out there,” said the fourth-generation Nashville racer who last Saturday made his second start for MacDonald Motorsports. He finished 14th on his home track after being 15th the previous week at Dover.
“This is a good, solid team and I enjoy driving for them,” Hamilton said.
“Interestingly Hamilton is co-owner of the Rensi-Hamilton Racing Ford driven by Eric McClure. McClure landed the ride by bringing a sponsor with him.
“It seems a little odd to be racing against my own team,” Hamilton admitted, “but at least if Eric does well, then so does my team. Hopefully I’ll back (as driver) at some point.”
Hamilton said the sponsorship woes that sidelined him for the early portion of the season “are really frustrating, but I’m not the only one it’s happened to. It’s something our entire sport is going through right now.”
In addition to his co-ownership of Rensi-Hamilton Racing, Bobby Jr. also is owner of the team formerly known as Sadler Racing. After being a partner in the 40-year-old Nashville-based team, Hamilton bought out founder Earl Sadler. Over the past four decades Sadler had provided early-career rides to such drivers as Davey Allison, Michael Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and Jeremy Mayfield.
Hamilton said the team – now named Hamilton Racing – will concentrate on the ARCA series, with an eye toward a possible Nationwide expansion next year.
The championship-winning NASCAR truck team founded by Bobby Jr.’s late father – Bobby Hamilton Racing – folded last year due to sponsorship problems. The younger Hamilton said he felt no sadness or regret when it happened.
“I didn’t have anything to do with that team after my dad died,” he said. “It still carried his name but I wasn’t a part of it and as far as I was concerned it wasn’t his team any more.”
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