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Hendrick domination will only become more pronounced in weak economy

By admin | December 12, 2011

By Richard Allen


One quick glance around the NASCAR landscape reveals that the amount of competition is lessening as the economy worsens. Supposed powerhouse teams such as Richard Childress Racing and Roush Fenway Racing have been forced to reduce their numbers while other organizations have folded all together. At the same time, race winning drivers the likes of Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, David Reutimann and David Ragan have had to move to what may be perceived as lesser teams or have no ride at all.

The inability to find adequate sponsorship is having a debilitating impact on all racing in general and NASCAR in particular.

As a history teacher I often point out to my students that during the poor economic times of the 1880s and the 1930s the common person was severely hurt while many of the nation’s wealthiest were able to use their considerable resources to actually expand their holdings. One team in NASCAR, along with its satellite partner, is actually experiencing the same type of gains as the competition withers.

Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing are not-so-quietly amassing the greatest collection of money generating talent the sport has ever seen within one organization.

If asked to name the drivers in NASCAR who are capable of generating the most revenue for their teams in terms of sponsor appeal, souvenir sales and media recognition the typical follower of the sport would likely come up with the HMS/SHR driver roster.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart have been bringing home the metaphorical bacon for these organizations for a while. And now, the additions of Kasey Kahne and Danica Patrick will only serve to strengthen the strongest in terms of revenue production.

In other words, money will never be in short supply at HMS/SHR as long as they keep drivers such as these. This increased capital is accomplishing much more than lining the pockets of Rick Hendrick.

As the old saying goes, “Money buys speed.” All the money rolling into the HMS and SHR from sponsors and licensing rights is allowing these organizations to hire the best people in the sport. Those people do everything from work on the cars to run the business offices.

Money also allows teams to buy the latest and greatest equipment, conduct more research and development, and test. This is all being done while their closest competitors are cutting back in all facets. Considering that HMS/SHR have accounted for the last six Sprint Cup titles, this is a case of the rich getting richer. Or perhaps better said, the fast getting faster.

If things keep up at the current pace, the winners of NASCAR races and championships may soon boil down to the fastest among the Hendrick Motorsports cars with everyone else just following along. It isn’t far from that now.

Topics: Articles |

11 Responses to “Hendrick domination will only become more pronounced in weak economy”

  1. Russ Says:
    December 12th, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Rich, this may be your best article.

    As a teacher, do you feel that this is the inevitable result of the drive for “equality” amongst all the makes and teams?

    To me the more rules you have, the result is that the differences between winning and losing become finer. Thus you have to be more and more creative to overcome them, requiring more and more resources.

    The joker here is the participation by and allocation of resources by the manufacturers.

    But as you say more and more Nascar will be dominated by HMS and its sattelites, and it may already be too late to change it.

  2. Richard Allen Says:
    December 12th, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    More rules means it takes more money to gain an edge.

    The CoT and its manufactured equality is nothing more than NASCAR’s form of socialism. And history has shown how well socialism works.

  3. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    December 12th, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    I am not interested in Hendrick or Toyota, which I just escaped the West Coast Mentality of, and I feel that Hendrick and their pseduoteammates, Stewart Haas are becoming the new Ferrari-Ford and I find I would if I was a future NASCAR Owner, build a Nothing Team out of Nothing Equipment and hire a Journeyman until the word came out and I believe Hendrick is more like Enzo Ferrari and I feel that Kyle Petty said once RCR was the best Start to Finish Team as far as Pit Crew and Hendrick was the better organization.

  4. Russ Says:
    December 12th, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    The really funny part is that without a major rule change nobody can challenge their dominance.

    The top 35 rule combined with the limit of 4 cars per owner effectively prevents anyone from doing what he did. Coming in, being successful and building a team over a period of time.

    Funny, almost as if it were planned that way.

  5. zhills fan Says:
    December 13th, 2011 at 5:54 am

    Is franchising next?

  6. Russ Says:
    December 13th, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Question. What would effectively be the difference between franchising and what you have today?

    As I understand it an entity (KFC or whoever) sells the right to produce a product using their name. The number of those franchises is controlled by the entity. The purchaser can, if allowed by the contract, sell that to another party.

    First, if you have franchises who sells the rights? Nascar, or the existing teams?

    Either way, doesnt seem to be a step forward, but maybe I’m missing something here.

  7. gregg kielma Says:
    December 13th, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Nice article Rich, however this is nothing new. Its always been about money and will always be about money, like it or not.. From the Saturday night Mini Srock racer to NASCAR. Money buys you speed and championships. No secret here but again a well written article.

    gregg kielma
    ESPN Radio

  8. Richard Allen Says:
    December 13th, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Of course it’s always been about money. The point is that Hendrick has found a way to continue generating that all important money while others struggle.

  9. Sue Rarick Says:
    December 13th, 2011 at 11:44 am

    I tend to agree with Russ that the rules used to equalize also tend to favor the company with the deepest pockets. When the regulations are loosened it tends to lessen the influence of large companies and adds innovation into the mix.

    Studebaker was the largest manufacturer of wagons in the late 1800’s. It was that era’s version of GM or Toyota. And while they got into the auto business early they had such a large beuracracy it slowed innovation and eventually led to its demise.

    The casinos in Atlantic City had regulations put into law that effectively ended live music in all but the casinos. And then they cut their live music to save money.

    Size and lack of innovation are breeding grounds for quasi monopolies.

  10. gregg kielma Says:
    December 13th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Mr. Hendrick, Richard Has built a better mouse trap. Do you think he has always had this kind of sponsorship or money? I remember when he started and just like everyone else he struggled. Now hes the top dog with the top drivers and teams. He’s paid the price, took the chances and frankly Richard, Mr. Hendrick has won. He has set the bar for others to match or beat. Thats what makes this interesting. And yes Richard…its all about the money no matter which sport your in, its all about the money.

  11. Charles Says:
    December 14th, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    As long as Rick Hendrick is in Nascar I will always question the ethics of the sport!

    Remember the Hof and when they announced Bill France JR induction of all the people they could have gotten to do the intro they picked Rick Hendrick! That spoke volumes to his connection to Frances and thus the results! A conflict of interest, and should have gotten someone who was not so involved as a team owner..its there call, but doesnt even pass the smell test!

    Hendricks past eithics are a issue, and mostly have come about bribes… the Honda scandal, even his latest issues with North Carolina Governor Mike Easley is about favortism….I think one day will be proven for Nascar…..

    He owns one of the largest Chevy Dealerships in the USA…ever seen Nascar ‘even it up’ but just let another brand start to step on their cape… then a rule change!

    And if I was a Nascar driver or wanting to start a team, who would I want to drive for….Rick Hendrick…because he has the inside track with the politics…and that what wins!!!!! But as long as Nascar is seemly his playtoy…fans will even it up by not going to Carl Kaefaver type sport again..

    Richars as far as your quote about the depression of the 30s, folks in my rural and farm area said they “were so poor “they didnt know their was a depression until they read it!