SBJ/June 16-22, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NASCAR expected to lay off more than 20

NASCAR this week is expected to lay off more than 20 employees as part of an ongoing evaluation of its enterprise.

The move is part of a series of initiatives being undertaken to improve efficiency and comes after previous evaluations of the company’s production and competition divisions.

The cuts will affect as many as eight divisions, including communications, marketing and digital, and were overseen by NASCAR’s executive team, including Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar, who joined the organization in January.

NASCAR declined to comment for this story. The company has offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Charlotte and Daytona Beach, Fla.

NASCAR is one of the few sports organizations that increased the size of its staff during the recession. While leagues such as the NFL and NBA eliminated 10 percent of their workforce, NASCAR built out a new communications division with more than 30 new hires and created an in-house digital division with more than 50 new employees.

The company brought in Dewar as COO in January, and the former General Motors executive has spent the last six months evaluating the business and looking for ways to improve operations. He has met with each of the company’s divisions and asked employees what changes they would make to the organization.

The push to improve NASCAR’s operations comes on the heels of some challenging years for the sport. NASCAR was one of the sports hardest hit by the recession. Attendance at its races dropped dramatically because its fans were affected disproportionately by the economic challenges that hit the country. Television viewership, which exploded in the late 1990s and early 2000s, also decreased considerably.

In 2011, NASCAR Chairman Brian France responded to the challenges facing the sport by creating an Industry Action Plan, which was designed to rejuvenate the fan base and re-energize the organization.

The sport has seen attendance improve and television viewership stabilize since then, but France hired Dewar to accelerate the efforts to attract new fans and improve operations.

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