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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Voices from the Heartland: Who Stands to Gain From NASCAR Cutting Purses?

There’s a lot of talk about NASCAR’s money situation this week in the wake of a surprise announcement last Friday. On the surface, the sport’s recent disclosure that they are going to reduce race purse amounts by 10%, with those monies going back to the track, may sound like a good thing.

In some ways, it is. I mean, let’s be honest here. The tracks are having a bad time of it, and could probably use all the help they can get. Another point of honesty is that no one really cares that Matt Kenseth would have only won $1,377,349 for a Daytona 500 victory instead of $1,530,388 had the cuts been in effect last year… unless you are Mrs. Kenseth! As with most pro athletes, the general populace just ain’t gonna feel too sorry for a guy that won almost $8 million last year if he gets 10% less this year. (Yes, I know that contracts are different, and he may only get to keep half his winnings or whatever, but still…) Basically, the rich will get just a little less richer this year. Well, at least some of them are.

But the more I thought about the 10% cut, the more I wondered… who REALLY stands to benefit the most? So at the risk of wasting an entire afternoon, I decided to do a bit of investigating. After all, we all know that the France family isn’t about to make any kind of “goodwill” gesture unless there is something in it on the bottom line for them.

Digging deeper, as per their announcement the 10% purse cut is to cover all three major series: Cup, “Cup Light” and the Trucks. As you can imagine, that is going to affect a lot of tracks. However, when it comes to “tracks” there are only three kinds – NASCAR tracks, non-NASCAR tracks, and “others.”

During the 2010 season, International Speedway Corp. (ISC) will host a total of 19 Sprint Cup races, 15 Nationwide races and nine Camping World Truck races. Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) will host 12 Cup, 10 NNS and eight Truck races. Other speedways not owned by either ISC or SMI will host five Cup, 10 NNS and seven Truck races. For the purpose of this article, I will only bore you with numbers as they pertain to the Sprint Cup Series, a small thing you will thank me for later! One should also note that my figures are based on last year’s purses, as that is the only information I can go by – considering my crystal ball is currently in the shop.

The biggest winner track-wise for 2010 will be Daytona by a large margin. DIS stands to gain $2,185,172.20 (again, based off last year’s purses). In second is SMI’s Texas Motor Speedway, coming in at $1,280,979.90. Remember, those figures are only for the Sprint Cup Series – we’re not even considering the Nationwide or Truck race purses!

One interesting side fact I noticed while going over these figures… five different tracks, Daytona, Phoenix (ISC), Bristol, Charlotte (SMI) and Dover (other) host five major events in all three series over the year. Texas (SMI) is the only one that hosts six.

At any rate, the grand totals you have read this far to find out are these: ISC will gain a total of $10,255,973 due to the 10% percent purse cut. Ironically, that $10.2 million is substantially higher than ISC’s total $6.8 million of net profit reported for ALL of 2009. ISC claims that a write-down of $77.6 million of the failing Motorsports Authentics brand, which it co-owns with SMI, is the reason their net profit for ’09 is 95% lower than 2008! Now that, my friends, is some serious hemorrhaging!

SMI, who hosts a total of 12 Cup races, stands to gain $5,401,993.40 in just the Cup Series alone due to reduced purses. Again, please remember than none of these figures even consider what either corporation will gain from the Nationwide or Truck Series.

As for SMI’s bottom profit line, I could not find the latest reports on their website, but what reports are there are 10 times more cheery than comparable ones for ISC. You are welcome to check them all out yourself for ISC and SMI. Both are actually very interesting if you can wade through all the BS that accompanies such stuff.

At the very least, you can see how fast the France ship is sinking and how they are trying to bail out the water. And speaking of bailing, before I go, I want to go on the record as saying…

The changes that NASCAR has made, the rules, spoiler, etc. are all GOOD! They are, however, nothing more than last-ditch attempts to save their ship! It’s the closest thing you will ever get to an admission of wrongdoing by a France for screwing them up in the first place, though – so might as well enjoy them! It looks as if the wallet of the fan has finally been heard after all!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

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