Petty Hopes New Partnership Ends ‘Floundering”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, December 8 2021

The principals of Petty GMS Motorsports; Richard Petty, Mike Beam and Maury Gallagher at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. (RacinToday photos by Deb Williams)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Investors without a racing background have owned the majority of Richard Petty Motorsports for slightly more than a decade, but that changes with Petty GMS Motorsports; a switch that has energized the seven-time NASCAR champion.

“We’ve got a foundation now,” the 84-year-old Petty, the new NASCAR Cup organization’s chairman, said Tuesday during a press conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “Before, we were just kind of floundering around because we were dependent on other people’s equipment. There’s not that many people that were dedicated to racing like what I wanted a partner to be.

“Now, if we don’t get it done, it’s going to be my fault or our fault together. Before, when things didn’t go right you could always blame the supplier or whatever. Now, there’s going to be no excuse. We’re going to have to produce and I like that part.”   

Earlier this month it was announced GMS Racing owner and Allegiant Air CEO Maury Gallagher would acquire Andrew Murstein’s Medallion Financial Corp.’s majority interest in Richard Petty Motorsports. Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported Gallagher paid $19.1 million for the acquisition that includes two charters, which will be used in 2022. Erik Jones will drive the No. 43 as previously announced while the No. 42 returns to the Petty fold with Ty Dillon. 

The No. 42 was used by Richard Petty’s father, Lee, 1949-1961. He claimed three championships and 54 victories with the number that his grandson Kyle Petty used 1979-1982 at Petty Enterprises and 1989-1996 with Felix Sabates’ NASCAR team. 

The No. 42 and No. 43 cars will be put back on the track by Petty GMS Motorsports next season.

During Kyle’s stint driving for Petty Enterprises, Mike Beam was his crew chief. Beam has been with GMS Racing since its creation in 2012 and will be the president of Petty GMS Motorsports, overseeing the day-to-day operations. Brian Moffitt, Richard Petty’s son-in-law, will be the new Cup team’s executive vice president of sales.

For Richard Petty, the wheel has made a full circle.

Petty Enterprises fielded cars in NASCAR’s Cup Series for 60 years before merging with Gillett Evernham Motorsports in 2009 after selling majority interest to Boston Ventures. At the time of the merger, Ray Evernham, who guided Jeff Gordon to three NASCAR Cup championships and returned Dodge to the sport, owned 20 percent of the company. Evernham had sold majority interest in Evernham Motorsports to George Gillett in 2007. With the merger, Richard Petty Motorsports was born. In late 2010, Murstein’s company, which manages more than $1 billion in investments, purchased Gillett’s interest in Richard Petty Motorsports.

Jones admitted Wednesday there had been “anxiety” around the Richard Childress Racing campus shop for the last couple of months since it became known that Murstein wanted to sell his interest in the operation. However, Jones said he didn’t have a backup plan because he knew the groups involved in the discussions and he felt confident he would continue as the driver of the No. 43 Chevrolet.

Gallagher said Tuesday that Murstein’s desire to sell was a key part of the puzzle.

“I believe if you knew some of the financial stuff, they were under pressure from public company activist shareholders … to publish their numbers,” Gallagher said. “If you look at the … public filings, they’re forced to … put out the Petty numbers … and they kept showing losses.”

Even though Murstein owns the majority of Medallion Financial there were “activist shareholders” who asked why they were continuing to invest in a company that continually showed a loss.

“So they were feeling pressure (to sell),” Gallagher said. “Not saying that made their decision, but it certainly, I think, put some emphasis on them looking at something.” 

 Gallagher’s GMS Racing will continue to compete full-time in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series with two teams and ARCA’s Menards Series. Since its formation nearly a decade ago, GMS Racing has captured two NASCAR Truck Series championships, one ARCA Menards Series title, and two ARCA Menards Series East championships as well as 65 victories, 235 top-five and 427 top-10 finishes across six series.

(Editor’s note: Award winning journalist Deb Williams is in her fourth decade of covering motorsports. The former editor of NASCAR Winston Cup Scene and managing editor of GT Motorsports has also covered auto racing for United Press International, USA Today, The Charlotte Observer and espnW.com. The 1990 and 1996 National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year has authored five books and hosts the podcast “Racing Now and Then.”)

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, December 8 2021
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