Red Bull Racing's five-year run as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team will come to an end tomorrow, when the last of approximately 150 employees will be laid off and the competition shop shut down, presumably for good.
After a brief team meeting tomorrow morning, the team will raffle off sheet metal, mementos and photos that have hung at the Red Bull shop and distribute cases of Red Bull to departing employees. "We know it will be a difficult day for everyone," said the memo, "as a large number of employees will be exiting the facility."
Red Bull entered the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in February of 2007 with drivers AJ Allmendinger and Brian Vickers. Vickers qualified for all 36 races in that inaugural season, posting three Top-5 and six Top-10 finishes en route to a 19th place finish in championship points. The inexperienced Allmendinger struggled mightily, failing to qualify for the first eight races before being pulled in favor of veteran Mike Skinner for seven events. Scott Speed also ran the final five races that season in a Red Bull Toyota.
Speed and Vickers steered the twin Red Bull entries in 2008, with seven different drivers sharing time for the team the following year. Vickers, Speed, Casey Mears, Kasey Kahne, Reed Sorenson, Boris Said and Mattias Ekstrom all spent time behind the wheel of Red Bull Toyotas that season, managing just seven Top-10 finishes among them.
Kahne and Vickers anchored a more stable Red Bull effort this season, qualifying for all 36 races and finishing 14th and 25th in point, respectively. Truck Series regular Cole Whitt also made a pair of starts in a third Red Bull entry in late-season events at Phoenix and Homestead Miami Speedway.
The team announced in June of the year that owner Dietrich Mateschitz was seeking outside investors or a buyer for the team. With a reported asking price of $40 million, however, no serious bidders were found. In September, the team filed documents with the state of North Carolina warning that its 152-person roster of employees would be permanently laid off, on or before December 17.