No Strikes Or Lockouts In NASCAR

Charlotte, NC (03-14-2011) – If you are a fan of the National Football League, you’re not too pleased these days as the NFL owners and players have ground the game and its future to a halt in a battle over a $9 billion financial football.

Could this kind of work stoppage ever happen in NASCAR? The short answer is probably not.

When it comes to business models, the NFL and NASCAR are about as similar as oil and water. The NFL, with its unions and collective bargaining agreements, is nothing like NASCAR and its wide-open ‘have at it boys’ business model.

Unlike the NFL, NASCAR has no unions or associations to represent its participants. While several attempts have been made to unionize the sport, none of them ever were implemented thanks in large part to NASCAR ruler Bill France, Sr.

France crushed a pair of driver unionization efforts in the 1960’s and made it clear that the associations had no place in NASCAR. Meanwhile, the NFL and its players embraced unionization way back in 1956 and ratified the first collective bargaining agreement between players and owners in 1968.

Since then, it’s been a tug of war of Super Bowl proportions to see who gets the biggest slice of the football financial pie. Work stoppages in 1982 and 1987 nearly sunk the game and last Friday’s union decertification/owner’s lockout certainly doesn’t bode well for the 2011 season.

Meanwhile, NASCAR has never really had a work stoppage. Many drivers boycotted the first-ever race at Talladega in 1969 over tire safety issues, but that’s it. Races have been lost to rain, snow and various other ‘acts of God,’ but a NASCAR event – including the race at Talladega – has never been cancelled because of union issues.

Needless to say, there’s green grass on both sides of the unionization issue. We’re not here to discuss the merits of either. In fact, there have been times we’ve argued that an ‘association’ would benefit NASCAR participants. This time isn’t one of them.

In recent years, NASCAR has had greater transparency and a more open attitude about participant issues – more notably safety and facility improvements. This has resulted in improved working/safety conditions for NASCAR, drivers, team and over-the-wall pit crew members.

Meanwhile, salaries of the top drivers rival those paid the best players in other sports and thousands who work in NASCAR make decent, honest livings – good enough to make a career of racing and support their families.

All of this has been accomplished without lockouts or strikes – so far.

Let’s face it – unless the NFL totally self destructs, NASCAR will never be as popular with fans as pro football is. You don’t hear the NFL calling its biggest game ‘the Daytona 500 of football’ and you probably never will.

That’s okay. But it’s also a fair bet you probably won’t ever hear the words ‘lockout’ or ‘strike’ in relation to NASCAR.
In our way of thinking, that’s way more ‘Super’ than anything the NFL is offering up these days.

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