Some NASCAR employees got the bad news that they were without a job on Friday.
According to the Associated Press, about 50 people who work for the series lost their jobs. The Sports Business Journal reported that the number of layoffs totaled less than 5 percent of NASCAR’s workforce.
The word on the street is about 50 people let go, some are people in competition with well-known names that the fan recognizes.
— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) January 11, 2019
The amount of @NASCAR's workforce that was laid off today is less than 5%, per a person familiar, meaning the figure is somewhere in the 1-4% range, which would represent dozens of employees.
— Adam Stern (@A_S12) January 11, 2019
NASCAR issued a tone-deaf statement about the layoffs.
“As all good businesses do, NASCAR is committed to strengthening its operation to ensure that resources are aligned to strategies that grow the sport and drive our business. We have a talented team at NASCAR and we’re confident that greater focus on the opportunities to drive fan interest and strong industry partnerships will help our sport achieve long-term growth.”
NASCAR has been unsuccessfully looking for long-term growth for quite some time. The series has hemorrhaged television and at-track viewers for years despite the financial security of a long-term television contract with Fox and NBC Sports.
Title sponsor Monster is leaving the Cup Series after the 2019 season. The company will have been the title sponsor of NASCAR’s highest level for just three seasons. And did that at a much lower sponsorship rate than previous sponsor Sprint.
Teams at all three levels of NASCAR struggle to find sponsors to cover the ever-rising costs of racing. Drivers who are coupled with a sponsor often find rides while drivers more accomplished and talented who don’t have sponsors often find themselves sidelined.
Is NASCAR for sale?
It’s entirely possible that NASCAR is positioning itself for a sale with the layoffs. The series has not explicitly denied reports that the France family is looking for an investor to buy part of the family-owned series. And NASCAR recently made a move to purchase all of the shares of publicly-owned sister company International Speedway Corporation. Privatizing ISC is a way that NASCAR could make itself more valuable to a potential investor.
According to Bloomberg, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry has been exploring purchasing a part of the series. Henry’s Fenway Sports Group is a co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing.
NASCAR’s current CEO is Jim France, the brother of former NASCAR CEO Bill France Jr. Jim France took over as NASCAR CEO after Brian France, Bill’s son, took a leave of absence after he was arrested for DWI and possession of a controlled substance in August.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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