Consisting of Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Richard Petty Motor Sports, Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, the newly formed nonprofit Race Team Alliance (RTA) reportedly aims to investigate ways to cut costs and promote the sport to a wider audience, while presenting a unified voice on issues facing racing teams. RTA chairman, Rob Kauffman of Michael Waltrip Racing, stressed the group’s intention for collaboration with NASCAR and racetracks, with the goal of attracting more spectators. Kauffman also noted that, although teams compete on the weekend, they face common challenges, such as risk, revenue and expenses, and there is a lot of common interest among RTA members.
Reaction to the formation of the RTA has been mixed. Some teams have shown interest in joining the group and, it been reported that they will be eligible to do so if the team has attempted to qualify for 95% of the 72 Sprint Cup races in the past two years. Some have suggested that the RTA aims to push NASCAR for a larger cut of a ten-year $8.2-billion TV sponsorship deal. The RTA insists it is being, and will continue to be, transparent in what it hopes to achieve. The response from NASCAR to the formation of the RTA was an announcement by president Mike Helton in which he stated that NASCAR “will continue to do business the way we’ve done business.”
Officially founded by William France Sr. in February 1948, NASCAR has gone through various changes over the decades and today the family owned and operated business oversees more than 1500 races held at over 100 tracks located in 39 US states and Canada. Series sanctioned by NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) include the Sprint Cup Series, Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series, Whelen All-American Series, Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Local Racing and the NASCAR iRacing.com Series. NASCAR’s current CEO is the grandson of founder William France Sr., Brian France.
NASCAR will be hosting its first events as the new owner of Iowa Speedway on the weekend of May 17-18, when the Casey’s General Store 150, NASCAR K&N Pro Series, and NASCAR Nationwide Get To Know Newton 250 presented by Sherwin Williams will take place. In addition to the action on the track, fans can expect loads of entertainment with a special feature being fan photo opportunities with winning drivers. Moreover, instead of being held inside the media center, drivers’ meetings will be held on the opposite side of the front stretch, giving fans more opportunities to see the competitors before the race starts.
New president of Iowa Speedway, 28-year-old Jimmy Small is reportedly determined to make a success of this new venture, and to include fans and the State of Iowa in the process. Small concedes that he’s aware that many people think he is a bit young for the position he is in, but notes that he is professional in his approach and passionate about the sport.
Born and raised in Detroit, historically the automotive capital of the United States, Small is a graduate of Notre Dame University in Indiana, not far from the renowned Indianapolis Motor Speedway. During his senior year he applied for a position at NASCAR’s headquarters in Daytona, and was hired soon after his graduation. Starting off in series operations, Small went on to gain experience in other areas of NASCAR’s operation, and when offered the position of president of Iowa Speedway, he readily accepted.
NASCAR’s announcement last year that it was buying Iowa Speedway generated a lot of speculation, and a lot of excitement among fans and teams alike. Top notch drivers, including Brad Keselowski and Trevor Bayne, tested the track last week and gave it the thumbs-up. Certainly autoracing fans in this region have some thrilling racing to look forward to at Iowa Speedway this season.