It’s no secret that money matters in racing. It’s an expensive sport and without financial backing it is virtually impossible to compete. This fact is true whether you’re talking about NASCAR, IndyCar, Dirt Late Models, Sprint Cars, or Street Stocks.
Unless a car owner has vast amounts of money of his/her own that they are willing to lose, sponsorship is essentially to be involved in racing. However, a problem in numerous forms of the sport is that companies or individuals willing to back racers are becoming fewer and fewer in number with each passing season.
As a result, available rides with teams in NASCAR, dirt racing, or any other form of motorsports are often tied to the amount of funding or other necessities the driver in question can bring to the table.
Shortly after it was announced that department store giant Target would not return in 2018 as a sponsor for NASCAR’s Chip Ganassi Racing and driver Kyle Larson, former driver and current commentator Kyle Petty took to the television air waves to discuss the situation the sport finds itself in regarding dwindling dollars coming in and the fact that rides are often doled out based on the ability to attract or bring sponsorship.
“No matter how much talent you have, if you don’t have the money it’s tough to get anywhere,” Petty declared of the modern state of racing.
The fact is, it’s difficult to dispute Petty’s claim.
The loss of Target as a major sponsor exemplifies a particular dilemma for modern day racing. Having been associated with Ganassi in both NASCAR and IndyCar for numerous years, this was one of the few backers in the sport that was not associated with one particular driver. In NASCAR alone, Target had placed their name on the sides of cars driven by the likes of Jimmy Spencer, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Larson and others.
Racing is quickly turning into a ‘Buy A Ride’ sport. There is no better evidence of this than the line of drivers who have been through the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season. And that is certainly not the only place in which such dealings have occurred. The potential NASCAR driver who can deliver a sponsor can get a ride. The dirt racer who has an engine to go along with someone else’s chassis can get a ride.
Mind you, this is what often times has to happen to assure survival in this difficult sport. That said, there is becoming less and less room for the guy who has talent but no major backing. Granted, that has always been true to some extent, but it is much more so now. And that applies to virtually all forms of racing.
While this writer certainly does not begrudge anyone who takes advantage of the opportunity to get into a race car, the hope here is that the quality of racing does not suffer as a result.