The next couple of weeks will be a time for celebration in NASCAR. We’ll crown three different champions this weekend and then head to the respective banquets. It was a season of improved ratings, competition and the first Cup champion not named Jimmie Johnson since 2005.
As some celebrate next week, a lot of others will be waiting to find out if they still have a job – or trying to figure out what they’re going to do next year.
Count among those, employees at Red Bull and Kevin Harvick Inc. KHI announced earlier this year it would be closing its doors at the end of the season, shifting Nationwide teams to Richard Childress Racing. The move has potential to bring some KHI employees along, but with a team shutting down at the notoriously loyal RCR, those spots are likely to be few and far between.
And while there has been talk about investors since Red Bull announced the sale of its NASCAR team months ago, nothing has emerged. The team has said there won’t be any layoffs before December 9.
On the slate of organizations with potential layoffs coming, some have already begun preparations. We heard this week Turner Motorsports brought in security guards to begin the process when its teams return from Homestead. Other teams where lack of sponsorship could lead to downsizing include Roush Fenway, Germain and Rusty Wallace, among others.
Despite the challenges, as TC wrote a couple of months ago, there are a few bright spots around the sport.
If Bowyer does end up at Michael Waltrip Racing [and he did] like it has been rumored, that team would go from two cars to three. Also, Stewart Haas is adding at least a partial third Cup car with the addition of Danica Patrick. We also know that Eddie Sharp Racing will expand significantly next season, as the team has purchased the #8 and #33 trucks from KHI to add to their already existing #6 truck. Possible drivers for those seats include Cale Gale and Tim George, Jr. And besides adding KHI’s #8 and #33 NNS teams, RCR will start a third NNS team for Austin Dillon.
Add to the above mentioned the long rumored return of Randy Moss Motorsports and expansion at Kyle Busch Motorsports before the beginning of next season.
This yearly ritual of layoffs has become all too familiar for a sport propped up on the backs of countless nameless faces. Employees are commodities to be exchanged and discarded, and they often are. Let’s hope this off-season is not quite as brutal as the one we’ve been bracing for.
So, as the season closes out and we celebrate the final lap, be thinking about those who find themselves in a familiar position for many Americans – out of work.