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Woody: Is NASCAR In Need Of A Trust Buster?

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 15 2009
Richard Petty is quickly becoming a king when it comes to owning mega teams in NASCAR. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Richard Petty is quickly becoming a king when it comes to owning mega teams in NASCAR. A.J. Allmendinger is one of his subjects. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight:

Evernham Motorsports merged with Gillett Motorsports, which merged with Petty Enterprises which merged with Yates Racing.

Previously Ginn Racing merged with Dale Earnhardt Inc., which merged with Ganassi Racing which had absorbed Sabatas Racing.

Used to be you couldn’t tell the drivers without a program. Today you can’t tell the teams without an acquisitions analyst.

Any day now I expect Hendrick Motorspors to merge with Roush Fenway, Richard Childress Racing and Gibbs Racing to produce HMRFRCRGR Racing.

Once that merger is complete, HMRFRCRGR can then merge with the new Gillette/Evernham/Petty/Yates conglomerate.

Eventually that outfit can merge with Stewart Hass Racing (a merger of Stewart and Hass using Hendrick motors). Then it can merge with Penske Racing.

The way things are going, NASCAR will eventually consist of two teams: Merger Motorsports and Robby Gordon.

I’m not sure such a concentration of power is healthy, whether it’s in the federal government or stock car racing.

In NASCAR it’s become a cold, hard fact: if a driver doesn’t race for one of the current handful of mega-teams, he doesn’t have a chance of winning.

And yes, I realize that has always been true to an extent – witness Petty Enterprises, the Wood Brothers, Junior Johnson and a few other dominant operations of yesteryear.

But something has changed. Maybe it’s the too-cozy on-track relationship of the proliferation of teammates – intentionally allowing each other free passes in order to collect bonus points being a prime example.

The more mergers, the more teammates and the more teammates the more “working together” goes on.

When every driver is driving for Merger Motorsports, I assume they’ll continue to give each other free passes – at which time they will no longer be actually “racing.”

They mega-teams need mega-bucks to operate, which means they are increasingly sucking all the oxygen (i.e., sponsors) out of the sport. Small-time teams are doomed.

It’s hard to imagine this happening in any other pro sport. What if Jerry Jones, for example, owned not just the Dallas Cowboys but three other NFL teams as well, and they “competed” against each other every Sunday? The NFL would never permit it. But in  NASCAR its routine.

It’s a vicious circle. The bigger the super teams get, the more money they need to operate. And the more money they bring in, the bigger they grow. And if they aren’t growing fast enough by themselves, they merge their efforts.

One consequence of the Merger Madness will be an end to fan bickering. How can anyone argue when everybody’s favorite driver is racing for the same team?

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 15 2009
5 Comments

5 Comments »

  • Doobie says:

    NASCAR is the host, and the mega-corporations are the parasites.

    Basically, it’s a reflection of what’s going on in the rest of the world.

  • Chris says:

    NASCAR is becoming more like cycling. When Lance Armstrong races, he is part of a team. The guys on the team really have no chance at winning the races, they’re just there to help Lance (i.e. drafting, keeping other riders at a distance). That is what’s going to happen in NASCAR. It’ll end up being 2 or 3 power house teams that battle for the glory. But each team will have about 10-15 drivers. Then designate their “franchise” driver and everyone else is to help him win the races and championship.

  • Richard in N.C. says:

    Of course you did forget to mention the 4 team limit for owners.

    The real concentration problem is EESPN. As they keep buying up more and more content, there output keeps going down in quality as their arrogance keeps growing – but of course the media never, ever criticizes EESPN regardless.

  • Ginger says:

    I can’t quit laughing. You nailed it son. The whole of NASCAR is looking more like a circus every day. When Bill France, Jr relinquished the reins to his “challenged” son, the **** hit the fan and has been slinging it around ever since. When will this madnesss end. I think the POSCOT may have been the last straw. Let’s just change the name of the sport to Merger instead of Nascar.

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