Race Team Alliance expands membership UPDATE: Race Team Alliance, Inc. is pleased to announce the expansion of its membership to 18 full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup teams, comprising 37 full-time entries. The RTA, formed in July, is a not-for-profit business league comprised of race teams participating in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The purpose of the organization is to create an open forum for the teams to explore areas of common interest and to work collaboratively on initiatives to help preserve, promote, and grow the sport of stock car racing. "One of the early goals of the Race Team Alliance was to expand our membership, and after only a month in existence, we have accomplished that goal," said Rob Kauffman, the RTA's elected chairman. "We now have virtually all the full-time teams participating. I think the membership as a whole is enthusiastic to get to work on some of the other items on our agenda, in particular some of the cost areas and marketing opportunities we have already identified." The RTA membership includes:
BK Racing, Circle Sport, Front Row, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Germain Racing, Go Green / FAS Lane, Hendrick Motorsports, HScott Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, JTG Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Phil Parsons Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske, and Tommy Baldwin Racing.(Race Team Alliance), the new teams are BK Racing, Circle Sport, Front Row, Germain Racing, Go Green / FASLane, JTG Racing, Phil Parsons Racing, & Tommy Baldwin Racing (8-13-2014)
UPDATE: Furniture Row Racing, which fields the #78 of Martin Truex Jr., is the only notable full-time Sprint Cup team that hasn't joined the RTA, which is comprised of teams from North and South Carolina. FRR is based in Denver and also is unique in being sponsored by its owner, Furniture Row founder Barney Visser. "We spoke to Barney, and he had the information," Kauffman said. "He thought it didn't make sense at this time. It's a free world, and I respect that. I think that's his prerogative, so it's completely fine." Kauffman said the RTA was looking at associate memberships for part-time teams that have expressed interest, such as Wood Brothers Racing.(USA Today)(8-14-2014)
Race Team Alliance expects to add NASCAR teams: Race Team Alliance chairman Rob Kauffman said Sunday the rest of NASCAR's full-time teams should soon be added to the group that is working on issues facing the sport. The RTA formed this month as an alliance of nine of NASCAR's top teams. Kauffman met with other owners this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and says they are on board. The RTA wants to lower costs for NASCAR teams and create one voice on issues. "The stuff on the RTA side is actually going quite well," Kauffman said. "We're just focused on doing what we said we were going to do. Get organized, get things done and try and be productive. Don't expect a lot of PR and excitement. Just doing what we said we were going to do. We're cautiously optimistic we're going to make some good progress. There's a lot of potential."(Associated Press)(7-28-2014)
Richard Petty comments on the Race Team Alliance: Richard Petty doesn't agree with Brian France's comments that the new Race Team Alliance (RTA) is a bad idea. "It's really kind of a bad idea from the standpoint that NASCAR should be doing what we're doing," said Petty, who is part of the nine-owner association. "We belong to an organization...and NASCAR should be making the best deals they can for their organization. We see them do a lot of that, but they're not doing it as much as maybe the new crowd wants." The RTA was formed earlier this month in order to help the teams speak with one voice and possibly find cost savings in areas like travel and insurance. Petty compared Friday it to a farmers' co-op. But France, NASCAR's chairman and CEO, told Sirius XM radio earlier this week he "didn't think (the RTA) was necessary" and said NASCAR preferred to listen to many voices instead of one consensus voice.(USA Today), see past news about the RTA on the Race Team Alliance News page.(7-26-2014)
France comments on Race Team Alliance: NASCAR chairman Brian France says listening to the consensus voice of the newly formed Race Team Alliance would be a "bad idea." France, in his first extensive interview on the RTA since the organization of major team owners was announced two weeks ago, told Sirius/XM's Sirius Speedway show on Monday that NASCAR "didn't think (the RTA) was necessary." The nine most powerful race teams in NASCAR announced July 7 they had formed an alliance with the stated purpose of cutting costs and pooling resources. But France said he had no intentions of dealing with the individual race teams as one organization. "That would probably be the worst thing we could ever do -- to listen to one voice, even if it were a consensus voice," he said. "Every decision we've ever made that's important, the more input, the more people we heard from, the better the result. That will never change in the business model of NASCAR, because good ideas come from all over the place." But it seems NASCAR's most influential team owners don't feel that way, since they banded together to form the RTA and speak as one regarding many issues facing the sport. And while France acknowledged the RTA "may figure out some things we're not aware of" in terms of reducing costs, he repeatedly said NASCAR would be "business as usual." That includes holding firm on the allocation of a mega $8.2 billion TV contract that kicks in next year - 25% of which goes to the race teams (65% goes to the tracks and 10% goes to NASCAR). The RTA is said to want a bigger piece of the pie, but France said the current percentages were "set for historical reasons - because it's the right allocation."(USA Today)(7-22-2014)
Race Team Alliance will talk to NASCAR through attorneys: If the new Race Team Alliance wants to communicate with NASCAR and its sister company International Speedway Corp. it will have to do so through attorneys. NASCAR President Mike Helton said Friday there is no animosity between the team owners and NASCAR, although NASCAR has had no conversations with Kauffman as part of the RTA. "I wanted to dispel the perception of animosity to start with and then back that up with saying we're going to do business as usual," Helton said Friday. "I think everybody in the garage area knows how we do our business and the role they play in it, and so we'll continue to do it that way." But apparently no NASCAR officials will be talking directly with the RTA. NASCAR confirmed Wednesday that in a move they say is done for legal prudence and not as a sign of animosity, it has directed that all communication between NASCAR and the RTA be done through lawyers. After the Sporting News published a column on the RTA Tuesday saying the development is a sign of an increased lack of trust between NASCAR and the teams and vice versa, Kauffman tweeted that ISC also has issued a lawyer-only edict.
The RTA has hired the legal firm of Jones Day, which provides representation on financial issues to almost half of the Fortune 500 companies. And they apparently need to be. Gary Roberts, a noted sports law expert and current professor at Indiana University, said last week that the organization could open itself up to a lawsuit depending on how it operates. There is nothing wrong with the teams working together for better purchasing power as long as the people they purchase from are not dependent solely on NASCAR teams for their business. The danger comes if the RTA represents the teams in any sort of negotiations with NASCAR and tries to use its collective leverage to force NASCAR's hand. "You have a monopolist, NASCAR, dictating terms to a group of entities that it does business with," Roberts said. "And the entities then (are) saying, 'We want to get together and create counter-veiling market power so we're on equal footing.'(Sporting News)(7-17-2014)
Gordon talks about the RTA and minimum speed: #24-Jeff Gordon was the guest of this week's NASCAR Teleconference and discussed many topics including the RTA and minimum speeds, the transcript in part:
Q. There was a lot of talk about the Joey Logano crash with Morgan Shepherd and a lot of discussion about minimum speeds and whatnot, and I think 10 years ago at Darlington you had an incident with Andy Hillenburg in which it was similar with a car struggling to kind of maintain minimum speed and you had a wreck. I was wondering do you have any thoughts on should NASCAR look at minimum speeds because I think that the pace was like 16 miles an hour faster than what the minimum speed was at New Hampshire, or are you comfortable with having cars that are running that slow on the track?
JEFF GORDON: "No, I'm not comfortable with that. I don't think they have any place out there if they're running that slow, whether you're a car that's had damage and you can't maintain the minimum speed, or is the minimum speed the proper speed. I think it probably needs to be raised up at certain tracks where there's not a lot of falloff in the tire, then I think that minimum speed probably needs to be adjusted. I don't know if that really contributed towards what happened with Morgan and Joey. The video doesn't show everything. You see Joey go by him. Obviously Morgan got loose and got into him.
The tricky thing about minimum speed at a place like New Hampshire, you've got cars all around the track. You've got a car that maybe can meet minimum speed in clean air, but they're really never in clean air because they're constantly getting passed or trying to make some room for the lap cars to go by. How do we truly measure minimum speed because if you do it every lap that they're getting passed by a faster car, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't make minimum speed, so I think NASCAR maybe looks at sometimes once they get into clean air are they making minimum speed, and at a place like New Hampshire or Martinsville, they're never in clean air, and I don't think they're ever going to make minimum speed. Those numbers are -- NASCAR has those, I don't. I know that week in and week out there are certain cars that you're passing very, very often that you're questioning whether or not they're making minimum speed or if the minimum speed is really at the right pace."
Q. What do you think about the owners forming the RTA? Do you see that as a positive or a negative, and if it's a positive, what are some things that you think they can accomplish?
JEFF GORDON: "Well, you know, I don't really see where things have changed a whole lot other than it's more official. They've been meeting for years to get together and communicate about where the sport is at, things that they can do to strengthen their teams, be more efficient. I think it's really just more of an official way to create that alliance, and I think it's a positive because our sport, in order for it to be strong, the teams need to be strong. They need to be profitable. They need to be able to do business, and it's turned into a big business, and it's constantly growing, and so I'm in support of it because if the teams are strong and more successful, then that's good for us that are part of the team and it's good for the sport, it's good for the fans, and so I think that this is definitely going to be something that we're all going to learn from and grow from, but I think it's something that definitely is only going to be good for the sport in general."
Q. I'm not using the word union, but would it be helpful to the drivers if they were organized in the same way the owners are attempting to be?
JEFF GORDON: :Well, I think the way I look at this, this is a team alliance. It's not an owner alliance. Some people are saying that, but to me it's what's going to make the teams more efficient, stronger, more profitable, and to me that includes the drivers. That includes all the employees on each of those teams. I think that it's in a lot of ways covering us, as well. We're aligned with the teams. I have a contract with a team and I want that team to be strong because I know if that team is strong, then that secures my position as a driver. It secures our sponsors and only helps us with our partners and our fans."
(Team Chevy), see full transcript at Jeffgordon.com and see a video of the interview at ESPN.com.(7-15-2014)
Kauffman, RTA talking to prospective members: Five days after its formation was announced, the Race Team Alliance is in the opening stage of expanding its membership beyond nine charter Sprint Cup teams. RTA chairman Rob Kauffman said he's talked over the past few days with Tommy Baldwin, Tad Geschickter (JTG Daugherty Racing) and other owners of the smaller organizations in NASCAR's premier series. The RTA is open to any teams that attempted to qualify for at least 95% of Cup races the past two seasons. Kauffman said the response were "quite positive" but demurred when asked about which teams would join. Representatives from smaller teams have deflected or declined comment about the RTA.(see full story at the USA Today)(7-13-2014)
Bruton Smith blasts Race Team Alliance: Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith, a longtime critic of NASCAR, became the sanctioning body's biggest supporter Friday, blasting the recent formation of the Race Team Alliance. "What I know about it, of course I don't like it," Smith said after Sprint Cup practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which is one of eight SMI-owned tracks that play host to NASCAR's premier series. "I don't know anything about it that's good for what we do. I don't see anything that's going to be good for the sport. Nothing. What little bit I know about it right now, it seems it will damage the sport. If NASCAR needs us, we're there with NASCAR on the deal. We're there every day, every hour, if they need us."
Announced Monday, the RTA is comprised of nine teams that have aligned with the objective of saving costs. Smith, though, said it won't improve NASCAR and likely would hurt it, though he was vague when pressed about how. "If you're NASCAR or Speedway Motorsports, show me one thing that's going to help the sport," Smith said. "I don't see anything I've heard or read about it."
Smith often feuded with former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. about race scheduling and the sport's direction, and there was speculation that the RTA might view him as an ally, given his maverick streak and vast business holdings. But Smith snuffed any such perception. "Absolutely not," he said. "I'll be standing shoulder to shoulder with NASCAR on this one. I know (the RTA isn't) going to like it. I like this sport. I've been in it forever. We have a huge investment around $4 billion. I don't sit up at night worrying about it, but I do not like the people to damage the sport."(see full story at the USA Today)(7-12-2014)
NASCAR president: no animosity towards RTA: NASCAR president Mike Helton says there is no animosity from the governing body toward the recently formed nine-team Race Team Alliance that will collaborate on initiatives and issues facing the sport. Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner Rob Kauffman was elected chairman of the RTA on Monday. The goals of the RTA include lowering costs for NASCAR teams and creating one voice on issues facing the teams. Kauffman insisted the RTA is not a union. Speaking Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Helton says every car owner has a voice in the garage. Helton says NASCAR will "continue to do business the way we've done business." Helton says he did have notice from the RTA that it was forming. Helton says "we believe the way we do our form of motorsports has worked."(Associated Press)(7-11-2014)
Sprint Cup teams form Race Team Alliance UPDATE2: A group of nine multi-car teams participating in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) announced today they have formed a collaborative business association called the Race Team Alliance (RTA). The purpose of the organization is to create an open forum for the teams to explore areas of common interest and to work collaboratively on initiatives to help preserve, promote, and grow the sport of stock car racing. The organization intends to open up its membership to all full time NSCS teams in the very near future. In providing a vehicle for the teams to work together, the organization creates for the first time a single entity to engage with stakeholders on creative ways to market and experience the power of the sport's teams and drivers. As part of its focus, the RTA also plans to explore innovative ways to harness the combined purchasing power and scale of the teams' operations to drive efficiencies in costs. Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, has been elected the first chair of the RTA.
"With the encouragement of NASCAR and the manufacturers, the teams have met in various forms and forums over the years to explore areas of common interest. This simply formalizes what was an informal group." said Kauffman. "The key word is 'Collaboration'. We all have vested interests in the success and popularity of stock car racing. By working together and speaking with a single voice, it should be a simpler and smoother process to work with current and potential groups involved with the sport. Whether it be looking for industry-wide travel partners or collaborating on technical issues - the idea is to work together to increase revenue, spend more efficiently, and deliver more value to our partners."
The following teams are the executive members of the RTA: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motor Sports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motor Sports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.(RTA)(7-7-2014)
UPDATE: Statement from NASCAR: "We are aware of the alliance concept the team owners have announced, but have very few specifics on its structure or purpose. It is apparently still in development and we're still learning about the details so it would be inappropriate to comment right now. NASCAR's mission, as it has always been, is to create a fair playing field where anyone can come and compete. Our job is to support and strengthen all of the teams, large and small, across all of our series and we'll continue to do that. NASCAR is a unique community with hundreds of stakeholders. They all have a voice and always will."(NASCAR)(7-7-2014)
UPDATE 2: #55-Brian Vickers doesn't know much about the newly formed Race Team Alliance, but he knows plenty about the man who's running it. The RTA, whose creation was announced Monday, is a business alliance of nine Sprint Cup teams that is being chaired by Rob Kauffman, who is the co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers, who drives the #55 Toyota for MWR in NASCAR's premier series, said he had "heard little things here and there" about the RTA but not much despite his proximity to Kauffman. "I just get in the car every Friday and just drive as fast as I can," he said Tuesday during a conference call with the news media. "I don't know enough, to be honest with you, about (the RTA) to have any opinion. I think any of those questions are better addressed to Rob or the ownership group. But in general, you know, I have a lot of respect for the owners in this industry. If they feel there's a need, then there's probably a need for it, so I wish them all the best."(USA Today)(7-9-2014)