Racing’s ‘Help Wanted’ Signs Have A Decidedly Green Tint

Charlotte, NC (August 22nd, 2011) – Here’s a memo to all those out there looking to realize their racing dreams – you better have way more money than you know what to do with – or you may want to reconsider your career direction.

About 15 years ago, the formation of racing ‘little leagues’ at tracks all over the country – go kart clubs, quarter midget, Bandolero and Legends car divisions – changed how future drivers are developed. And while the system has created more skilled drivers than ever flooding the market with talent, it also unknowingly changed the financial dynamics of the sport.

To understand that, here’s a quick look back.

Prior to the late 1990’s, team owners in stock car and open wheel racing would shake the bushes looking for the next hot shoe, signing and developing them to drive their cars. If you could drive, you got a ride. It didn’t matter if you had a nickel in your pocket. The team owner or sponsor would pick up the tab.

That’s not the case anymore.

Team owners are still interested in great young talent, but because there are so many good young drivers and almost all with high career aspirations – especially in NASCAR – teams don’t have to look for talent. It comes to them as every major team has a folder full of driver resumes that want to race their equipment.

To do that, you pretty much need a race transporter full of money to get the seat. Talent is no longer enough. Money takes the checkered flag first for race teams these days.

Don’t think so? Consider the following.

The way into NASCAR these days is either through the Truck or Nationwide Series. You either have $2.5-$3.5 million dollars in cash or sponsorship funding to buy a Truck Series ride, or $4-$7 million to sit in a Nationwide car.

If your racing resume doesn’t have a check for these amounts attached to it, there’s no need to apply. The days of teams giving someone a ‘chance’ are clearly over. Nobody is handing out seats based on talent.

Later this week, we’ll see racing’s ‘pay for play’ business model in full bloom when Danica Patrick finally ascends to the stock car ranks.

Patrick, who has yet to clearly demonstrate she has the skills to compete at the NASCAR Nationwide and Cup levels, will get the chance to do just that next season thanks to the fact she will bring millions of dollars in sponsorship money and potentially millions more in marketing opportunities/revenues to her new team – Jr. Motorsports.

Forget the fact that Patrick is a woman. Of course that helps the marketing angle, but without the dough to make it go, she’d just be another driver – male or female – looking for a ride.

Fortunately enough for today’s teams, there are enough young drivers with families who have wealth and/or ties to the sponsorship community to sustain the sport and support this kind of business model.

The bottom line is that if you are a big-time racing wanna-be, the only way you get a ride today is to own your team or pay to drive for someone else.

Get ready to open your wallet – or somebody else’s – big time if you want to be the next Kyle Busch or Danica Patrick because the ‘Help Wanted’ signs hanging in the team shop windows have a decidedly green tint to them these days.

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