CONCORD, N.C. – Team owner Rick Hendrick said Tuesday that he’s hopeful a program will be put in place by the end of this year to give Sprint Cup teams greater value.
Whether that is truly franchising remains to be seen. A phrase used throughout the garage area has been a medallion system. It’s been compared to a taxi medallion – where a city-issued license is granted to operate a cab and provides that company value because of the scarcity of medallions.
NASCAR Sprint Cup owners have been looking for years ways to build value in their teams. If sponsorship goes away or an owner leaves, all that’s left of a team is a building and equipment.
It’s like what is happening to Michael Waltrip Racing. Rob Kauffman, who provided the team’s financial backing, is leaving to purchase a minority interest in Chip Ganassi Racing. MWR will cease operations by early next year and lay off 217 employees.
“It’s a great sport, but a very difficult business model,’’ Kauffman said last month at Bristol Motor Speedway. “From a business decision it just made sense to not go forward with that organization because it isn’t really commercially viable.’’
Had a medallion program been in place, Kauffman could have had sold his interest because the team’s value would have been based on more than sponsorship and equipment. That would mean less of a risk to a new buyer. Just as new owners have emerged in the NBA in recent months with its franchising, the same could happen in NASCAR.
“I think it’s going to help bring new owners in because if you’ve got something that makes your team worth something and you want to retire, you can sell it,’’ Hendrick said. “It’s going to help grow new ownership.
“I’m hoping my son-in-law and everybody wants to continue. If they were not … it brings value. People will pay for value. They have a guaranteed starting spot and an income stream.’’
Kauffman, chairman of the Race Team Alliance, has pushed for such a program, noting the significant financial challenges owners face.
“The sport is at a point,’’ team owner Richard Childress said in July, “(that) to be able to keep quality teams, NASCAR knows they’ve got to work in other areas to try to help all the teams survive.’’
Should such a program not be in place by the end of this year, Hendrick said “I think it will be (unveiled) early in ’16.”