NASCAR announced Friday afternoon that it’s made an offer to purchase International Speedway Corporation.
ISC is a publicly-owned company whose CEO is Lesa France Kennedy. The France family owns NASCAR and spun off ISC into a separate company in 1953. NASCAR’s offer would privatize ISC and make it fully owned by the France family.
“In a highly competitive sports and entertainment landscape, a more unified strategic approach is important to our future growth,” NASCAR CEO Jim France said in a statement. “We believe the industry requires structural changes to best position the sport for long-term success and this offer represents a positive step forward in that direction.”
Jim France is Lesa’s uncle. He’s the chairman of ISC. Jim took over as NASCAR’s CEO after Brian France, Lesa’s brother, was arrested for suspicion of DUI in August.
A Reuters report emerged earlier this season that the France family was interested in selling at least a portion of the family-owned series. The family didn’t comment on that report.
The majority of tracks that NASCAR races at are owned by ISC and Speedway Motorsports Inc. Twelve of the tracks currently on the 36-race Cup Series schedule are owned by ISC. Per ESPN, NASCAR’s offer to ISC shareholders is $42 a share. The stock price was approximately $39 as of Friday.
A good sign for a schedule shakeup?
If you’re looking for NASCAR to change up the schedule, the news that NASCAR wants to wholly own ISC could be good news for you. NASCAR’s schedule is in dire need of a shakeup and making ISC a private entity could remove a massive hurdle to a schedule change.
Many ISC tracks currently host two races. If NASCAR wanted to remove a race from a track that had two races it would have to appease ISC shareholders while doing so. That’s hard to do when you’re removing a revenue source in the form of a race.
NASCAR’s schedule for 2019 is already set, but the 2020 schedule could feature significant changes. This could be a major step in that direction.
Further consolidation for a future sale?
It’s also worth mentioning that NASCAR is more valuable to a potential investor with tracks included in its portfolio. While ISC and NASCAR have always been closely associated because of the France family, they have always operated as separate entities. While there are no signs a sale or partial sale is anywhere close to imminent, it makes more sense from NASCAR’s perspective to have as much as possible under its umbrella if a sale could be in the offing somewhere down the line.
The primary revenue source for NASCAR and its tracks are television revenue from the rights fees paid by Fox and NBC to broadcast the sport. The current television deal with the two networks goes through the 2024 season.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.