According to a Reuters.com report, the majority owners of NASCAR are seeking to sell the largest stock car racing series in North America. The France family, who has owned the sport since its inception in 1948 is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to seek a potential deal for the company. Talks are currently at the exploratory stage; no sale is imminent at this time.
Bill France Sr. and his family have been the only owners of NASCAR since its inception in 1948. The Frances have almost exclusively held top leadership roles as well. When Bill France Sr. retired in 1972 his son, Bill Jr., took over. He led the sport from 1972 until 2000 when control shifted to NASCAR’s President, Mike Helton. After Helton’s position as President was essentially eliminated, Brian France, who has been the CEO of the sport since 2003, assumed control.
The future of International Speedway Corporation, NASCAR’s track arm was not mentioned in the report. Jim France, Bill Jr.’s brother and Lesa France Kennedy own NASCAR. But the entire extended family, including Brian owns a majority stake in the ISC brand. The company owns 12 racetracks in all that house Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series dates. ISC tracks will host 19 of 36 MENCS races total (52.7 percent) this season.
NASCAR has seen its share of struggles since reaching peak viewership around 2004-06. There’s been a decline in at-track attendance, with multiple facilities removing seats. Major sponsors have left the sport like Dollar General, Home Depot and Farmers Insurance. Superstars such as Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have recently retired.
As a result, TV ratings this season have declined to multi-year lows. Some races have recorded their smallest Nielsen ratings in 20 years.
“In a time period that is attractive for live event and live entertainment, NASCAR has struggled,” said Rich Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG. “There is absolutely a desire to own rather than license content but everything has a price.”
Earlier NASCAR sale reports this year discussed a potential price tag of between $3 and $5 billion. ISC’s inclusion in the deal is what potentially spikes the price. A sale would also mean a renegotiation of the team charter agreements (expiring in 2020), track agreements and potentially even the sport’s television deal, set to expire in 2024.
“We do not have anything to add,” said NASCAR spokeswoman Steph Harris to multiple reports regarding the sale. Goldman Sachs has also declined comment at this time.