Powerhouse NASCAR Teams Form Race Team Alliance
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Nine powerhouse NASCAR teams representing 25 Sprint Cup Series entries have formed the Race Team Alliance (RTA) to create an open forum for members to explore areas of common interest and work collaboratively on initiatives to help preserve, promote and grow the sport of stock car racing.
RTA members are Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabaters, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR), Richard Childress Racing (RCR), Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM), Roush Fenway Racing (RFR), Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and Team Penske.
MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman will chair the new organization.
"The genesis was a long term in the making," Kauffman said. "Really, this is builds on encouragement from NASCAR and the manufacturers for the teams to work together to coordinate and collaborate on technical and rule things. The Gen 6 car was a big success story of collaboration and this just formalizes a lot of those initiatives."
The RTA could help teams manage future costs and present procedural ideas to NASCAR.
"How many employees do all of us have in total? We didn't know. How much do we spend on travel? We didn't know that, either. How much do we spend on parts and equipment? One of the things that's fun and exciting is there's so much to do," Kauffman said. "You have really smart folks in the room to help you do it, and they are all motivated. The key is we all have a vested interest in the growth of stock-car racing and the popularity of it.
"It's certainly more interesting to write a story about some sort of a controversy or a battle, but in this case, there actually isn't one. We're just getting organized. If someone wants drivers, cars or resources, we're the ones that have them. Up until now, there's been no one person to call."
Kauffman's goal is start small and build.
"One of the first projects I want to do, maybe it's not earth-shattering but it just makes sense, is ask how many hotel rooms a year we are renting. There are an awful lot, and we all rent them in the same place and at the same time. If we pool our hotel nights together into a big contractual request for proposal to the major companies, maybe we can get a hotel partner for the teams and have a better deal and more flexibility. All the teams have a similar issue, whether it's with the shop people or the road crews, on disability (insurance) and pensions.
"On the technical changes, I think, for example, proposals on testing policies could make a lot of sense. NASCAR has already reached out to a lot of the teams to coordinate and come up with some kind of consensus. Ultimately, they'll decide what they want to do. If there's an organized response and teams can get to together to say A or B are both choices we're all in favor of, it would be probably helpful if you're trying to make a decision. The key word is collaboration.
"There are so many basic good business things we can do. That's our priority. Chip (Ganassi) said the goal is this is a long-term term organization. We're just starting out. I like to start small and build on success."
Should the RTA be successful in it pursuits, it could be in a position to make stronger investments in NASCAR's developmental series.
"If we have more capacity, we'd like to be able to invest in more development drivers and expand beyond the Cup deal, this is speaking from the Michael Waltrip standpoint. If the teams are more secure in their long-term future and have better business models, you can really afford to invest for the long-term, not just trying to survive year to year, " Kauffman added.
NBC NASCAR analyst and part-time MWR driver Jeff Burton projects the RTA has potential to ultimately improve the level of competition.
"For everybody in the industry, we've all known for a while the owners have been struggling," Burton said. "We've got to have good ownership and the fact they all got together in an effort to make things better kind of surprises me. On the other hand, it doesn't because I know they've been working together for quite a while trying to improve and lower their expenses.
"A lot of the (success of the RTA) will depend on how receptive NASCAR is to it and the overall goal. I don't think the owners want to take over the sport. I don't the think the owners want to unionize, so to speak.
"I think want the owner's want is a more collective voice. What happens now is that an issue comes up and the owners all go in with different perspectives. Because they don't get a chance to hash it out, in some ways, they hurt themselves because NASCAR makes a decision it thinks owners want, it thinks will save owners money, but some owners don't want that.
"Ultimately, some decisions are going to be made as it relates to competition, as it relates to changes to the cars in an effort to make the racing better. I think it'll be a little more organized because the owners are going to be talking among themselves rather than separately.
"If the owners can't make money doing this, they're going to quit doing it. Without owners, we're in trouble."
NASCAR vice president and chief communications officer Brett Jewkes provided the sanctioning body's vantage point regarding the RTA.
"We are aware of the alliance concept the team owners have announced, but have very few specifics on its structure or purpose," he said. "It is apparently still in development and we're still learning about the details, so it would be inappropriate to comment right now.
"NASCAR's mission, as it has always been, is to create a fair playing field where anyone can come and compete. Our job is to support and strengthen all of the teams, large and small, across all of our series and we'll continue to do that."
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series visit New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week while the Camping World Truck Series competes at Iowa Speedway.
- Kentucky Speedway -