NASCAR teams are in a “major predicament” over the charters

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) — A large group of NASCAR team owners skipped a meeting with series officials Wednesday with the two sides deadlocked over perpetual charters, a key panel in the stock car series’ business model.

Fearing the meeting would be “hijacked” by a conversation solely on the charters — multimillion-dollar guarantees of car ownership in NASCAR’s top cup series — the team owner’s board told NASCAR that it felt the talks should be postponed.

NASCAR said it planned to hold the meeting anyway, but the teams didn’t show up, said Curtis Polk, part owner of 23XI Racing and one of four members of the negotiating committee trying to put together a new business plan for the summit in the country. racing series.

“It was clear that if we brought the whole group together, that would be the only topic anyone wanted to talk about and that’s not constructive in general,” said Dave Albern, president of Joe Gibbs Racing. Alpern, Polk and Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports and Steve Newmark of RFK Racing are board members representing all teams.

Last October the owners announced their frustration On what they see as a broken business model where the racetracks and NASCAR make the bulk of the money and the teams are forced to fund their organizations through outside sponsorship.

In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Alpern and Polk said significant progress had been made with NASCAR on several key issues but that the two sides had reached a “major impasse” over the charters.

In 2016, NASCAR adopted a 36-car leasing system as close to the franchise model as possible in a sport founded and independently owned by the France family. Pacts give teams something of value to keep — or sell — and protect their investment in the sport.

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Both charters are renewable—current ones expire at the end of the 2024 season—and revocable by NASCAR if a team fails to perform over a predetermined period of time. Race teams want the charters to become permanent, and NASCAR seems unwilling to even discuss the issue.

“It is the foundation on which everything else is built. If they give you the moon, but are able to take it away from you periodically, what good is there for the moon?” Polk told the Associated Press.

NASCAR said it was willing to work with the teams on financial security, and it reiterated that commitment Wednesday after the owners did not show up for the meeting.

“NASCAR is committed to open and productive dialogue on a regular basis with all stakeholders in the industry,” NASCAR said in a statement. “We remain committed to continuing the discussions in a spirit of cooperation and with the common goal of growing our sport for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

The crash occurred after the entire racing team alliance held a call on Tuesday to discuss the topics of a smaller meeting with NASCAR. The RTA is made up of 16 teams and teams can have as many representatives as they choose on those calls.

When it became clear on the call with more than 50 participants that permanent charters were the only issue the RTA wanted to address, the smaller negotiating committee advised NASCAR that its meeting should be postponed. Meetings with NASCAR are limited to one team owner and one executive from each of the 16 charter teams.

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Asked what would happen next, Polk said, “We are ready to meet. We want to make a deal.” But he reiterated that talks must begin under permanent charters.

Alpern and Polk declined to discuss details of how the teams would gain traction with NASCAR during months of negotiations.

NASCAR has confirmed that teams receive about 40% of the revenue generated industry-wide.

The financial split from the $8.2 billion media rights deal signed prior to the 2015 season sends 65% to the tracks, 25% to the teams and 10% to NASCAR, according to the series. There are two major track operators, NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports; NASCAR owns the majority of the venues on the Cup Series schedule, including crown jewel Daytona International Speedway, and the NASCAR family is owned by France.

The teams argued that they had become “full-time fundraisers” seeking sponsorship to keep their organizations afloat and the only possible place to make further financial cuts was through layoffs.

The teams revealed last October that sponsorship covers 60% to 80% of budgets for all 16 approved organizations. With sponsorship so vital, the teams are desperate for financial relief elsewhere and have asked NASCAR to help cover baseline costs.

NASCAR president Steve Phelps told the Associated Press in February that he was confident a solution could be found.

“We have said publicly and will continue to say publicly that we need to have financially healthy racing teams,” Phelps said then. “Racing teams that are financially healthy will put a better product on the track and that is great for the sport in general.”

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The current charter agreement expires at the same time as the current NASCAR television deals. NASCAR is in an exclusive negotiation window with both Fox Sports and NBC Sports on renewals. The exclusivity period ends May 1, Phelps told the AP, and NASCAR could explore TV rights deals with outside partners after that date.


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