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SBD/Issue 45/Leagues & Governing Bodies
Big Layoffs Expected As NASCAR Enters Challenging Offseason
Published November 17, 2008
|Earnhardt Jr. Says Teams Have
Been Living "Beyond Our Means"
HITTING THE BRAKES: USA TODAY's Seth Livingstone writes while "nobody knows how many jobs will be lost," the consolidation and cutbacks "reflect the economic downturn and a difficulty in maintaining sponsorship levels." DEI President of Global Operations Max Siegel said of company layoffs, "It's gut-wrenching. Most of the people here are passionate about what they do. It's not just a job, it's a lifestyle. To eliminate those jobs is going to be tough" (USA TODAY, 11/17). The CHARLOTTE OBSERVER's David Poole wrote NASCAR teams for years have been "hiring as many people as they could possibly afford and then found work for them," but now are "trying to figure out how few they can have and still get their work done, and just how much of that work is necessary." Poole: "How festive do you think the men and women who're losing their jobs with teams will feel when they turn on their televisions and see NASCAR swells in their black-tie finery at the Sprint Cup awards ceremony?" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/16). In Norfolk, Dustin Long reported the estimates are that "there have already been 300 team members in the Cup series who have lost their jobs this season" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 11/16). Driver Jeff Burton: "The last few years we've been at ... an all-time high in the number of fully funded, fully staffed race teams. ... With the economy the way it was with the exposure that NASCAR was able to give sponsors, there was a tremendous amount of willingness to get involved, which created a lot of jobs." But Burton added, "At a time when the economy isn't as good, we're going to see the negative side of that." Bill Davis Racing (BDR) last week announced impending layoffs, and BDR Competition Dir Tommy Baldwin said, "We've had to make adjustments to our work force like every other team out there" (SCENEDAILY.com, 11/16).
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: In DC, Liz Clarke wrote while it is no secret NASCAR is "getting slammed by the economic slowdown," it is "not a given that the competition will suffer as a result." In fact, a return to "frugality might be the best thing for stock-car racing." Former driver Kenny Wallace: "There are millions of dollars wasted in this sport trying to gain an advantage on the other competitors." Speed TV's Jimmy Spencer: "Greed has become a big problem for NASCAR, and that includes me, working for TV. I want every damn thing I can get! But all of us need to start realizing we're spending too much" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/16). Autoextremist.com Editor Peter DeLorenzo said, "This is an opportunity for NASCAR to reinvent itself. Whether [NASCAR Chair & CEO] Brian France and his team have the vision to do that, I'm not so sure because they're pretty comfortable the way things are and the way things have been and the glass is always half full for them. I'm sure they think, 'Well, we'll get through this.'" Fox' Darrell Waltrip, a former team owner, said, "We're race-aholics, and race-aholics spend what they have, and a little bit more. And so if you have $20[M], you spend 21" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/15). Crew chief Brad Parrott: "I'm going on the record and say the drivers make too much money. ... If one driver can give up 10[%] of his salary, that would keep a lot of people in jobs" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 11/17).
CGR's Steve Lauletta Reportedly Point Man
For New Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Team
GETTING TO KNOW ONE ANOTHER: ESPN.com's David Newton reported plans are in place for CGR to "switch from Dodge to Chevrolet and be part of the engine program currently used" by DEI and Richard Childress Racing (RCR). RCR Owner Richard Childress, who co-owns the Earnhardt Childress Racing (ECR) engine program, said that a meeting is scheduled for tomorrow to "hopefully finalize plans" to bring CGR into the ECG program. When asked if the new EGR partnership would "have to be Chevrolet to be part of that program," Childress said, "I would think so" (ESPN.com, 11/16). NASCAR SCENE's Bob Pockrass cited sources who said that EGR will operate out of the current CGR shop (SCENEDAILY.com, 11/16). Earnhardt Jr., in the wake of the merger, said of his father, late driver and DEI Founder Dale Earnhardt, "If he was here, he would be sad, but he is not and everybody has to go do their own thing and make their own way. Everybody has got to take care of themselves" (TAMPABAY.com, 11/16).
HALL COSTS ALSO GOING UP: Construction of the NASCAR HOF in Charlotte is around 20% over budget, and Former SMI President & CEO Humpy Wheeler said it was “inevitable that it was going to happen.” Wheeler: “This was the first time a sports Hall of Fame museum like this has been built. You can’t compare the Major League Baseball deal in Cooperstown or the NFL Hall of Fame up in Canton anywhere close to this. This has so much cutting-edge stuff to it, and it’s really going to be entertaining and it’s important that it be done right” (“Flashpoint,” WCNC-NBC, 11/16).