In a shock announcement Monday afternoon, the Red Bull Racing Team, which employs Sprint Cup drivers Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne, said it was seeking outside investors in order to keep its NASCAR operations going.
Analysts were quick to conclude that Red Bull is planning to deep six its NASCAR operations but I prefer to think it’s re-evaluating its position and will keep going if it can either find serious money from some associate sponsors or else sell the team and stay on as the primary sponsor.
Red Bull’s statement said it fully intends to support its NASCAR effort for the remainder of the 2011 season as "we fight for victories and a position in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup."
Vickers would be the victim here as Kahne will be driving for Rick Hendrick in 2012 and is just marking time at Red Bull anyway. Of course, many people other than the drivers are under threat there and jobs in NASCAR are very scarce these days.
I’ve often wondered about the apparent millions and millions of dollars Red Bull spends on motorsport. The Formula One "A" team’s budget is undoubtedly over the moon and the "B" team Toro Rosso can’t be far behind. Two F1 teams? One is crazy; two is – well, you can use your own word.
Throw in a NASCAR team with two cars and sponsorship of hot air balloon races, aerobatic airplane races and so-on and the amount of money being spent on motorsport and the like is simply unimaginable.
Something had to give, and the NASCAR team would appear to be it.
Or, is it the first domino to fall?
We’ll soon see, won’t we?
Two other follow-ups to blog items I published Monday:
– McLaren is apparently gearing up to meet the challenge from Ferrari and offer Grand Prix of Canada winner Jenson Button a long-term contract for mucho moolah.
Well, that was kind of expected, wasn't it? Of course, we still await word from Button about all of this.
And the IZOD IndyCar Series’ return to Milwaukee may turn out to have been a one-off. CEO Randy Bernard is quoted by Speed TV reporter Robin Miller as saying he was pretty disappointed with the crowd (13,000 in a 40,000-seat facility) and won’t confirm that there will be a race there next year.
Status quo is great when times are good and things are humming. That was in the 1990s when Milwaukee and Elkhart Lake and Michigan International were all on the schedule and all jam-packed.
But status quo is not so good when something’s gummed up the works, which is the situation now. To explain the sorrry attendance at Milwaukke, people are suggesting the promoters were new and didn’t do a proper job and the race was at 3:30 because of TV and it rained in the morning and yada yada yada.
The reason only 13,000 people showed up at Milwaukee on Sunday is because that market, for whatever reason, doesn’t give a damn about Indy car racing anymore and no amount of promoting and/or sunny skies or a noon start (or an 8 p.m. start under the lights) is going to change that.
You can’t keep beating a dead horse.
USAC (the U.S. Auto Club) was in that rut back in the Seventies. They went to Milwaukee then – twice. And Phoenix twice and Trenton twice. Maybe the racing was good and the crowds were good but the sponsors couldn't have cared less.
It was only after Dan Gurney, Pat Patrick, Jim Trueman and Roger Penske formed CART and started takin’ it to the streets of Long Beach, Detroit and Toronto that Indy car racing started to explode.
As I said Monday, there are plenty of markets in North America where IndyCar would be welcomed with open arms. It’s up to Bernard, et al, to go find them.