A true American team, partially owned by a British guy. Confusing? I thought so.
Spend much time around this sport and you’ll see your fair share of bad ideas and failed teams. Remember Trail Motorsport? Well this weekend, like clockwork, we got one of the better (I say sarcastically) ideas I’ve seen.
Enter a couple of guys you’ve probably never heard of, and an idea they think no one else has thought of.
NASCAR fans all across the country will now have one team to pull for: their team, America’s Racing Team. After multiple large-scale quantitative and qualitative studies, the creation of America’s Racing Team (ART), a NASCAR Sprint Cup team formed primarily from “Team Partners,” was announced today live on NASCAR.com from “The World Center of Racing,” the Daytona International Speedway. ART will be the first team in the history of NASCAR to be largely bankrolled by the fans.
After weeks of trying to create buzz, this is what we get? The press conference and the team’s at-track attempt to present themselves were laughable. The NASCAR Examiner’s Greg Engle has a very amusing look at the team’s NASCAR introduction – and they’re confusing contradiction. And needless to say I haven’t seen a positive piece of press about this (except for maybe this) – come to think of it, I haven’t really seen any press about this (Jayski didn’t even put anything up).
If you’re unfamiliar with this team’s plan I’ll lay it out for you. Two guys, Micheal Wright, formally of talent agency IMG, and Daniel Webber, managing director of Supervision Media (and son of another former IMG exec), want to field a car beginning next season at Daytona. The catch is, they’re using a membership program (with prices ranging from $44.95 for children to $499.95 for families) targeted at fans to pay for most of the deal. Good luck.
In the name of full disclosure, the team claims this isn’t a fan sponsored car.
No, this is something completely different. We’ve all seen the fan concept done in the past, in various forms, with limited success. Rather, this is a team starting from scratch that will plan to align with only the best performers in the industry. Our team is not something just for one race, this to race full-time with the plan to be competing for the Chase within five years. This is something for fans to be a part of and to build in partnership with the ownership group.
But absent them coming up with other sponsorship, it is.
The fact is, as they themselves acknowledge, many before have tried the race fan sponsored racecar. Most times teams are able to defray some costs, but putting together enough money for a full race – let alone a full season – is very difficult.
Among the plethora of reasons why this doesn’t work is that NASCAR fans don’t support teams, they support drivers. This isn’t F1. So unless you’ve got a fan’s favorite driver driving for you, chances are they aren’t going to shell out their hard earned money to help that person get on track – even if you make them think they can contribute to team decisions.
Assuming they sell tens of thousands of memberships, they would still need to put together millions of dollars in sponsorship to run a remotely competitive team. Even with a slick ad campaign they plan to run on Speed and ESPN, something tells me they won’t come close to what they need.
At the end of the day I know I have a lot of questions, and even more concerns. For instance, if you read the fine print (and there’s a lot of it) you can see, among other things, if this doesn’t get off the ground you only get a partial refund.
I STRONGLY encourage anyone thinking of buying one of these ‘memberships’ to put their credit card away, and wait until there is more information – a lot more information.
Will they make it to Daytona next year? Who knows. But I can tell you I’m not holding my breath.