Jim France’s NASCAR to-do list
NASCAR’s five-year track sanctioning agreements expire after 2020. If the sport plans to completely revamp the schedule for 2021 and beyond, it will lay the groundwork this year. NASCAR President Steve Phelps has said the 2020 schedule could see meaningful changes as well, although those figure to be less dramatic than the ones under consideration for 2021.
If NASCAR’s proposed $1.9 billion bid to purchase International Speedway Corp. gains approval this year, as many industry executives predict, France will face a significant task in bringing together the sanctioning body and the track company that has been publicly traded since 1996.
Last year’s closure of Furniture Row Racing caught the attention of everyone in the sport and provided an added catalyst to reform the team ownership model. Teams are studying possible competitive balance frameworks to get spending in order. They’re also looking at new revenue streams such as esports and gambling.
The France family is still said to be eyeing a sale of a minority stake in NASCAR that could turn into a controlling stake in time. Aligning the sanctioning body and ISC tracks under the same holding company would enhance the value offering of a sale. Insiders now wonder whether the Smith family will retain control of Speedway Motorsports Inc. or if it could eventually be acquired, too.
NASCAR will unveil a new sponsorship model in 2020 so it will use this year to finalize the system and start announcing major details. NASCAR has been aiming for a tiered system with four to six top-shelf partners; now it just needs to establish the parameters.
For all the initiatives that NASCAR is undertaking to reverse its fortunes and PR narrative, most feel that nothing could help the sport more than simple stabilization in TV ratings and attendance following years of incremental declines. To that end, NASCAR is implementing new initiatives this year like a paid media spend.