Friday, July 11, 2014

Helton Says NASCAR Has No Issues With RTA

NASCAR president Mike Helton said today that the sanctioning body will not change its way of doing business as a result of the newly formed Race Team Alliance.
Earlier this week, nine of NASCAR’s top Sprint Cup Series teams announced what they called “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.”

Comprised of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske, the RTA announced plans to extend invitations to all full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams in the near future.

Meeting with reporters Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Helton downplayed reports of animosity between the new group and NASCAR, saying the sanctioning body will continue to do business as usual.
“We’re going to stay our course,” said Helton. “We have great respect for our stakeholders, so any perception (that) there could be animosity based on this topic is incorrect.”
He said the sanctioning body will continue to solicit input from all team owners when making policy decisions.  “Every car owner in here has a voice;” he said, “crew members, drivers (and) crew chiefs. We take that input and make what we think are the best decisions that are good for the whole sport.
“We will continue to operate that way. Our intention is to build NASCAR collectively.”
RTA Chairman Rob Kauffman – co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing – denied reports this week that the group intends to lobby NASCAR for a larger percentage of next year’s new, $8.3 billion television contract, saying they will work primarily toward producing cost savings in areas like rental cars, hotel accommodations, air travel and insurance premiums; efforts that Helton said NASCAR supports.
“We take very seriously our responsibility to make decisions in this sport (and) in the garage area, for the race tracks and the other partners that we have,” he said. “Part of that responsibility is to have a sport that has a great product at great race tracks for our fans, and the owners have been very clear that that is their intention, too. We stand together very clearly on that.”
He stressed, however, that the RTA will not change NASCAR’s approach to governing the sport, saying, “We believe that the way we (manage) our form of motorsports has worked. We continue to add assets and value in order to create and grow the sport.”

He also said that NASCAR will continue to seek input from all team owners -- large and small – in an effort to “limit the barrier of entry the best we can… in the garage area of our series (and) to encourage people who want to be owners, drivers or crew members to be part of this sport.”


  1. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Unfortunately, people tend to seek out possible controversy and "stir" it. The real truth of the matter is this: All players in the world of NASCAR need each other. The sanctioning body, the owners, the tracks, the media, and the fans must all be healthy in order for the sport to continue. If any link in the chain breaks, the entire chain is broken. NASCAR and the RTA both know this. At the end of the day, I trust that all parties will make decisions for the health of the entire sport.

    1. Anonymous11:06 AM

      If that were true then the sport would not have fallen as far in ratings, attendance & popularity as it has, nor would the racing have gotten as terrible. Somewhere from around 1993 on, it transitioned from being an actual sport into a sport-like entertainment.

      When NA$CAR rammed the COT down the teams & manufacturers throats & then had to scrap it a few years later due the the manufacturers fighting back in making them create the Gen6 car, so there would be recognizable elements of each manufacturer in each car, that was a good way of gauging how arrogant & out of touch the people at NA$CAR are. This isn't a recent development either. They've always been arrogant & a dictatorship, & despite attempts at revisionist history, it hasn't ever been a "benevolent dictatorship". The sport has needed something like this for a long, long time, & one can only hope it finally brings down the France family dynasty that ran the sport into the ground all in favor of more profits for them. In forty-five years of following NA$CAR I've said that something like this needed to be done for longer than most current fans have been alive.

    2. To Anonymous #2 -

      1 - The decline in the quality of the racing is at most only partly a sanctioning body vs. team owners issue; primarily it's a sport vs. technology arms race issue. The technology arms race - most specifically the increases in horsepower and the switch from bias-ply to radial tires - has greatly hurt the raceability of the racecars because radials - and radial tire setups - are not conducive to side by side racing while having too much horsepower has narrowed the racing grooves of most tracks. Chris Economaki put it best in his book Let 'Em All Go when he noted that bias-plies allowed drivers to race where radials require drivers to "catch" the car. The emphasis on points racing - which is indeed a sanctioning body issue - has made it worse.

      2 - The COT - and the alleged revolt against it by the manufacturers; I say alleged because Dodge has left the sport even though the COT was dead by 2010 and Ford has cut back to where I'm wondering if they'll stay, again even though the COT is long dead - was a gross miscalculation by NASCAR, but the larger issue is lack of spending controls in the sport, which are more and more needed. The manufacturers do not warrant being let off the hook here. Between the technology arms race, uneven efforts toward their teams (Dodge blew it by taking away Lou Patane's control of the effort entering 2001 and pretty much leaving the other teams out to dry after Penske signed on, while Chevy should have better spread out its effort instead of biasing so much of it toward Hendrick's fleet), and poor decision-making, the manufacturers warrant criticism for what's happened the last fifteen-plus seasons, not just NASCAR.

      The Gen6 argument about recognizable elements of each manufacturer is just a lot of hot air - aero-matching has been a natural evolution in the sport (check the 1981 Pontiac LeMans and how it influenced Ford's racecar aerodynamics from 1983 onward, for instance) as Form Follows Function; what NASCAR simply did was write it into the rulebook to try and lessen the workload of its inspectors. Again, the issue is not aero-matching as it is not adequately addressing the overall technology arms race.

      3 - To say that the sport "has needed (the RTA) for a long time" is itself revisionist history. You claim the France family has run the sport into the ground in favor of more profits for them - yet what specific examples of this practice can you cite? The COT? That doesn't work. The Chase? That has not added one dollar of profit to Brian France - it exists because Brian France truly believes racing needs some kind of playoff format, and this reflects his real problem as NASCAR's leader, his lack of grasp of the sport's competitive nuances.

      To rip the France family requires examples of what should have been done as an alternative to their policies. Big Bill France was indeed ruthless and dictatorial, because he better understood the big picture of the sport than others. Bill Jr. was less confrontational than his dad but he better understood the sport than a lot of his critics. Brian France warrants criticism because his ideas do not work and we know of credible alternatives - the Chase, for instance, needs to be scrapped and the points system reverted to the Latford Point System with substantially larger point bonuses for most laps led - 10 for leading a lap and 80 for most laps led per race - and for winning the race (100-125 bonus points there) - but the criticism needs to be realistic, and we need to understand that Anonymous #1's larger point about all the players in NASCAR needing to work together is true.

  2. Anonymous2:43 PM

    you reported very well what both parties have said -the fact that both have had no interaction so far leads me to believe there is time to grow the animosity-
    “…an autocratic regime that doles out punishment in a capricious manner.” they started to fix the penaltys this year to reflect something predictable -not airplane numbers - ,,,,,,,somebody now plans on working the autocratic regime part

  3. Anonymous2:32 AM

    ..well what took these owners so long, especially since "The Chase" and pretty much all of King Brian's rein.