Car owner Jack Roush says his teams will not take part in this week's latest test of NASCAR's "Car of Tomorrow" at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Roush did not attend last week’s meeting to discuss possible modifications to the car, but said changes that will shorten rear bodywork by as much as six inches make it too costly for him to take part at this time.
“The car that we’ve got doesn’t have the front end exactly right, and it doesn’t have the back end exactly right," said Roush. "For us to try to do front splitter development and rear wing development would be a waste of time. It’s morphing into something that I hope will do what we need it to do, but it’s definitely a work in progress.’’
Roush has been a frequent critic of the "Car Of Tomorrow," often citing the high cost of building and testing the new machines. He was one of the last major team owners to get involved with the project -- Ford colleague Robert Yates still hasn't built one -- and says that every time his team builds a "Car Of Tomorrow," NASCAR changes it. Roush said months ago that he had already spent more than $300,000 on the COT, before it ever hit the racetrack. And now, they're talking about changing it again, chopping as much as six inches off the rear bodywork in an effort to reduce downforce.
Three hundred grand is a lot of money in anyone's league. But then again, when it comes to money, Jack Roush plays in a league all his own. Forbes magazine reported recently that Roush Racing is the most valuable organization in NASCAR, with an estimated net worth of $218 million. The article -- to run in the June 5th edition -- said Roush's five Nextel Cup and six Busch Series teams enjoy 2006 corporate sponsorship estimated at $108 million, and have earned another $8.3 million in purse and prize money. Forbes did not factor-in Roush’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams, nor revenue received from NASCAR’s Nextel Cup and Busch Series television packages. By way of comparison, Hendrick Motorsports – with four Cup and two Busch entries -- ranks a distant second, with an estimated value of $146 million, and 2006 sponsorships worth $77 million.
If my math is correct (a 50/50 chance in most instances), Roush's $300,000 investment in the "Car Of Tomorrow" represents 1.3% of the net worth of his operation; a small fraction of what he almost certainly spends on engine development, aerodynamic testing and research on today's racers. Based on Forbes' numbers, it's tough to feel sorry for Poor Jack Roush and the high cost of testing the "Car Of Tomorrow."
Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Richard Childress Racing, Evernham Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Penske Racing South, MB2 Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing will all be at Lowe's Motor Speedway this week, doing their part to help NASCAR chart a safe and competitive course for the future. While not in attendance this week, Petty Enterprises has also played a leading role on the development of NASCAR's new racer.
While all those teams (and others) pitch-in and pull their weight, "Poor Jack" sits on the sidelines, carping about all the money he's spent, and second-guessing the work being done by others.
Kyle Petty said it best a few weeks ago, when he criticized Roush and the other COT naysayers. "Everybody jumps to conclusions, saying, ‘Oh my God, the Car of Tomorrow is going to change racing,’" said Petty. "How do they know until we come up with the end product? They need to get off their butts, and get out here and help us."