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Voices from the Heartland: In This Age of “Perception,” DEI Is In Intensive Care

In this ever increasingly mixed up world, a world where “perception” seems to be valued over “truth,” the entity known as Dale Earnhardt Inc. is in dire need of serious medical attention.

Pronto.

The biggest wound that DEI has suffered in 2007 is, of course, the well-documented divorce and subsequent family tiff that ultimately resulted in Dale Earnhardt Jr. becoming employed by Rick Hendrick next season… not the family business he has always worked for. After that sort of major trauma, one would think that DEI would prefer to sort of “lay low” for awhile, taking stock and regrouping in preparation for life without a “Dale” in the mix.

That does not seem to be their strategy, though. Instead, they’ve chosen to grow the company; but of course, as is the case with any sort of expansion… there’s as much risk as reward.

Right now, risk has reared its ugly head.

Last week, I wrote about many of the mergers that have taken place this past year in the world of NASCAR. One that I did not mention, however, was the assimilation of Ginn Racing by DEI back in July.

While most of the other mergers seem to be well thought out business plans involving high-profile and powerful participants, the Ginn/DEI deal strikes me as more of a “jump on the merger bandwagon” type of thing. More important than that is the one thing that those that control DEI seem to have forgotten; the fact that when you assimilate another company, you also inherit their problems, as well.

COMMENTARY: BOBBY GINN ROLLED SNAKE EYES

Those issues have now been brought squarely into the public eye. With the dust of the Dale Jr./DEI fracas barely settled, DEI is now named in a lawsuit brought on by Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek of all people (and their crew chiefs, too). The lawsuit claims breach of contract, demanding payment for wages through the rest of the year after all parties listed were let go as part of the merger in July. As the complaint states, “Demand for payment has been made… but [Ginn and DEI] have failed and/or refused to pay all or any part…”

Faced with possible legal ramifications, officials at DEI still claim that it is not their problem; they were not involved in those contracts, and therefore, have placed the responsibility squarely on Bobby Ginn’s shoulders.

How convenient.

Now, I realize that Marlin and Nemechek’s main beef is with Ginn Racing, but DEI’s stance on the matter does not help their already “not so nice” image. Perhaps it needs to be pointed out to Teresa, or Max [Siegel], or whoever is running the show at DEI these days – as it was pointed out to me, many years ago (albeit AFTER the fact) – “When you marry the girl, you marry the family.”

Bobby Ginn, whose post-merger role in DEI seems to be one of “Yeah, he has an office down the hall there somewhere,” says that he is surprised by the lawsuits, claiming he has Marlin and Nemechek fully paid up through August.

“This totally surprised me, and it looks to me like they are trying to ask for something over and above that they are just not entitled to,” Ginn said.

Hello, Bobby! This is Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek we’re talking about here! Guys that, unlike many in the sport today, are old-school racers who care more about the race than the pay! They’re two guys that are respected by peers and fans alike, and now Bobby Ginn – and DEI – want to assert that they are trying to fleece them?

Give me a break, DEI. Your image is tarnished enough without dragging this all out. Pay the men what is owed within their contracts and move on. It’s not like they are asking for mega millions. Anyways, from what I’ve read, $5 million ought to be more than enough to cover this whole deal. Isn’t that chump change for this organization?

I say, pay ’em and move on. The future row that DEI is must hoe is going to the toughest in the company’s history as it is; it would certainly behoove them to at least foster the “perception” of doing the right thing for the time being.

Stay off the wall, (and off the DEI payroll!)

Jeff Meyer

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