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WAID’S WORLD: Furniture Row’s Demise Is Result Of The Economics Of NASCAR

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The announcement by team owner Barney Visser that he would fold Furniture Row Racing at the end of the season, due to a failure to find appropriate sponsorship, comes as a sad occurrence for NASCAR.

It is a most unfortunate happenstance for the sanctioning body, and its competitors and fans, to lose the team with which Martin Truex Jr. won the Monster Series NASCAR Cup championship just last season.

It means that in the space of 10 months the sport has lost the organization ranked as its best, by which it rightly earned through its accomplishments.

It is hard to imagine.

But economics have prevailed. Visser explained that his aggressive search for new sponsorship to replace the departing 5-hour Energy was not successful. He could not find a means to offset rising costs.

He said he was not going to spend his own money. Nor should he. And he added that he made his announcement in time, hopefully, for his employees to find work elsewhere. This is very laudable.

One might wonder why a successful, championship team could not acquire proper funding. But then, one might well wonder why a Hendrick Motorsports team with seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson has not, as of this writing, found a sponsor.

The answer, at least in my opinion, is not all that complicated.

The economic times dictate that companies and corporations must be cautious as to how they spend their money.

Sure, we have all heard about the rising stock market and the dwindling jobless rate but those numbers do not translate into corporate spending that does not make economic sense.

And as of now investing in NASCAR might not make economic sense to much of corporate America.

Let’s review the sponsorship environment that exists today.

Where once NASCAR teams could enjoy sponsorship from a single entity at a high price – and we all remember that era – now even the most successful and popular organizations are required to land several financial backers to carry them through a season.

That means it is more difficult to find the needed money. Ask Visser. Ask Hendrick Motorsports.

Many observers have lashed out at NASCAR claiming it, through its greed, has not worked for the benefit of its teams when it comes to sponsorship.

If it had done so, it’s said, Furniture Row Racing would have never come to this end.

Perhaps. I know that in the past NASCAR has indeed helped some of its more prominent teams acquire sponsorship.

But, at the same time, it has gone about securing financial support for its own programs and even its major series.

Over the years a few sponsors have told me that almost as soon as they signed a deal with a team they got a call from NASCAR.

That being so I find it very hard to accept the fact that the sanctioning body would idly stand by and not attempt, in some way, to assist a championship team.

Why would it not do so? In the end it suffers if for no other reason than it stands to take tremendous public relations and image hit. And it has.

I think we all would like to think that it tried to do something even though, to be honest, it was not compelled to do so. Maybe it did, maybe not.

In the end that is not really the point.

The point is that teams have always done the search for sponsorship on their own. Those they find and the amounts they pay have always been parts of mutual agreement – with little, if any, outside influence.

And if in today’s environment such agreements are difficult to arrange or must be shared by mutual parties, then so be it. That can change.

But until then it seems there was nothing Furniture Row Racing was able to do about it.

Champion Truex Jr. will move on to Joe Gibbs Racing.

That – and the fact that Visser made the announcement of his team’s demise timely and with the welfare of his employees in mind – are at least two positive things we can take from this disheartening episode.



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Steve Waid

Steve Waid has been in motor sports journalism since 1972, the year he first started covering NASCAR, when he started his newspaper career at the Martinsville (Va.) Bulletin. From there Waid spent time at the Roanoke Times & World as well as NASCAR Scene, where he was the executive editor for 10 years. After retiring in 2010 he became the Vice President of Unplugged Auto Group for its website, and has now joined POPULAR SPEED as an editor and columnist. Waid has won numerous writing awards and other such accolades. In January of 2014 he was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame.