Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 22 No. 32
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Teams want help from NASCAR to pay for new cars

NASCAR teams are asking the sanctioning body to help foot the bill for the major expense of building a new fleet of race cars, sources say, an unusual move that signals teams still believe the sport’s revenue distribution is out of balance.

In conjunction with NASCAR, teams plan to introduce a new car — dubbed the Generation 7 model — in 2021. Transitioning to the new car is expected to cost teams tens of millions of dollars in total, and they’re asking NASCAR and tracks to help defray that expense, according to sources.

While the request is not a direct ultimatum for NASCAR to give teams a greater slice of the sport’s media rights revenue, it reveals that teams still feel strongly that their business model needs to be altered for them to survive and succeed. Teams receive less than half of what tracks get in media rights revenue, and that has long been a source of discontent.

NASCAR’s media rights deals with Fox Sports and NBC Sports earn the sport a combined $820 million annually through 2024, with 65 percent of that revenue going to tracks, 25 percent to teams and 10 percent to NASCAR. It’s not clear how much the teams are asking the league and tracks to contribute to the changeover costs.

NASCAR and team executives declined to comment, citing the sensitivity of the topic. But sources confirmed that the ask has been made and that talks are ongoing. NASCAR has neither immediately embraced the idea nor outright rejected it so far, according to one source with direct knowledge of the matter.

NASCAR periodically changes its car models to keep up with technology and styling preferences by the sport’s manufacturers. The planned transition was announced earlier this year, but details have been scant, in large part because teams, manufacturers and NASCAR are still negotiating over the exact specs. However, the cars are expected to look more like the manufacturers’ street vehicles and built to be more conducive to creating exciting racing.

While long term the new models are designed to save teams money, it’s the initial investment to build the new fleet that has teams looking for help. Teams will have to spend heavily on research and development, and their current cars would become obsolete, and thus of little to no value.

NASCAR and its teams discussed the situation at their quarterly Team Owner Council meeting earlier this month. It’s not yet clear when the sides might announce more details for their plans with the new model.