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Dodge’s exit should have surprised…no one

By admin | August 9, 2012

By Richard Allen


Earlier this week, Dodge announced they would not be a part of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. This should have come as a surprise to no one considering that the manufacturer had lost its primary banner carrier when Penske Racing declared some time back that they would be switching to Ford next year.

Once the Penske announcement was made back in February, speculation about the manufacturer’s future and the possible pairings that could be made to keep Dodge involved in NASCAR racing came fast and furious. However, the reality was that there were virtually no places for the auto maker to turn considering the current landscape of the sport.

Rumors immediately began to swirl that Richard Petty Motorsports might be the team to take up the Dodge banner. This conjecture stemmed from the historical association of Petty himself with the Chrysler Corporation. However, this speculation was based more on hope and nostalgia than on reality.

But RPM does not build its own engines and would have been pushed for time and finances to take on such an endeavor.

There were also rumors of brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch uniting at the Sprint Cup level in Dodges for Kyle Busch Motorsports. But that team would have faced the same stumbling block as RPM.

Another option looked to emerge when IndyCar team Andretti Autosport entered into preliminary negotiations to enter NASCAR as a Dodge outfit. However, that possibility never came to fruition as time slipped away without the landing of necessary sponsorship.

When Penske decided to leave Dodge, that put an end to the only truly competitive option for the building of engines of that brand at the Sprint Cup level.

Quite simply, there just aren’t that many organizations out there who can build engines to compete at NASCAR’s highest level. When it is considered that Hendrick Motorsports and Earnhardt Childress Race Engines are locked into the Chevrolet brand while Roush Fenway Racing’s Roush-Yates Engines company is a Ford stalwart, the top engine builders are already solidly aligned.

The top Toyota teams of Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing get their power plants from that manufacturer’s TRD facility. This was another rumored solution for Dodge when the story was put out that the company was considering buying Penske’s engine department. But for an auto maker that is not on the best of financial footing, such an undertaking would not make good business sense.

In the end, there was just nowhere for Dodge to go that was truly feasible. All the major teams are locked down and no new teams are emerging in a time when corporations are not exactly lining up to hand over the amount of money it takes to run a top flight Sprint Cup organization.

The bottom line is, no one should have been surprised when NASCAR lost one of its four manufacturers earlier this week.

Topics: Articles |

14 Responses to “Dodge’s exit should have surprised…no one”

  1. Andy Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Dodge’s exit should be a warning to NASCAR to break up the chassis/engine dynasties. Even worse is that those same suppliers are the dominant race teams as well.

    Petty Enterprises and Holman/Moody supplied a lot of teams in the Sixties but Big Bill was always able to keep them from being an 800 pound gorilla.

  2. Russ Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 6:42 am

    This too can be laid, at least to a large extent, at the doorstep of the Top 35 rule. With the absence of new owners coming into the sport no one had the capability to step up even it given a major infusion of Dodge cash.
    Meanwhile the cannabalization within the existing teams goes on.
    It appears that the manufacturers are headed toward having a central company that will build and disperse chassis and engines to its affiliated teams. Much as Roush does for for Ford, Once that is fully in place there wont be any, if there is now room for any additional manufacturers.

    BTW: anybody notice that there are only 43 cars entered for the Glen this weekend.

  3. Jesse Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I just wish Chevrolet and Ford would do the same and let Toyota have it all and see how long before NASCAR would fold up. A factory that builds just racing engines for a company that never had a true factory race car, what a joke.

  4. Sue Rarick Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Dodge is run from Canada by a man whose interests sre F1 not Nascar. His bosses in Italy are obviously F1 fans. Nascar is far down their interest list.

    I personally think Penske wanted more money from them than they were willing to pay and they both went their seperate ways.

    Look for great Viper/Vette racing action next year.

  5. Tony Geinzer Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 8:00 am

    I really feel Dodge is on shaky ground Moneywise and that was far from good.

  6. Russ Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Sue is correct, Fiat owns Dodge now, and they own a little Italian company called Ferrari. The money that Ferrari spends in a year on F1 is estimated to be $240 million USD (2011). So obviously they know about racing. They just must not see either a return on the investment or a chance of success. Maybe neither.

  7. Bill B Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I may be wrong about this but….
    Dodge didn’t have a problem starting from scratch with Evernham in 2001 did they?

    Sounds like they didn’t want to pony up the money (again) to start a new team. I don’t blame them. Toyota made the same mistake. They realized it after that first year and quickly made JGR an offer they couldn’t refuse.

    I guess in this economy Dodge only wanted to stay in NASCAR if they could find a cheap way to do it and still be competitive. The minute Penske said they were going to Ford we all collectively started asking what Dodge could possibly. We knew they wouldn’t settle for one of the also-ran teams.

  8. Adam Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Dodge made a huge mistake to pull out of NASCAR right when the cars are getting designed more like a street version stock car. Personally being a race fan of various types of motorsports not just NASCAR I do seem to remember dodge took a big government bailout and restructured and sold off to fiat. I am curious if they actually ever paid back the usa government loans. I think NASCAR will survive without dodge again and the Daytona 500 will still be the Daytona 500. Dodge would never have had a name in NASCAR if it was not for the Pettys and those hemis out of Level Cross. F1 does not sell cars in America like NASCAR. Either way our sports cars and race cars in the states For the money invested can beat anything else in the world. Our cobras and corvettes can compete with cars that are 5 times the price.

  9. Andy Says:
    August 10th, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    “A factory that builds just racing engines for a company that never had a true factory race car, what a joke.”

    They did once. In 1968, no less than Carroll Shelby ran their 2000GT race team. That was a supercar in it’s era.
    Then they realized they could make more money catering to the Consumer Reports crowd than Car & Driver.

    I agree that they have no factory race cars, though the Charger, Impala and Fusion aren’t thrilling either. They’ve had a few genuine racing programs, LeMans and such, but their street cars are as exciting as an AMC Hornet. They’ve had some kick-butt factory cars in Japan (Supras etc) but the USA doesn’t get them.

    PS: Adam, when the government bailed out Chrysler they gave the money to three separate companies. The new Chrysler (Fiat) repaid in May 2011. Chrysler Financial repaid also. The old Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and we will never recover their 1.3 billion.
    That’s how rich capitalists still pay their marina bills when they tank a company. We haven’t made Cobras for about 45 years. We make Vipers though.

  10. Russ Says:
    August 11th, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Andy makes some interesting points although stopping short of the main one.
    None of these cars resemble anything that comes off of an assembly line. They are built by people who work for race teams not car manufacturers who start with a bunch of steel tubing. So any comparison of factory race cars is a real stretch.
    And he’s right, car companies are in business because they sell Camry’s, Accords, Fusions and Malibu’s, not Nascar race cars.
    Dodge/Fiat made a business decision the same as any of us would.
    And btw: the chassis for the beloved Cobra was British, built by AC cars. Shelby tried to get GM to sell him engines but they wouldn’t because they didn’t want to compete with the Corvette, so he went to Ford.
    Just business you know.

  11. Joel Says:
    August 11th, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    It was tough decision in troubled times. Obviously mistakes were made along the way. No doubt Dodge and Penske wish they had done something different 5 months ago as they now survey where they stand. Dodge can look back on many things they could have done different over the years, but under that management cluster they had it was a struggle. How many leadership teams did they have in 11 years? Daimler, Cerberus, USA, and now Fiat all called the shots at one point. I am not surprised the program did not survive through that mess. Yes, Dodge started from scratch in 01 and Toyota also a few years later, but that was a different circuit then there is today. The now super-mega teams of Roush, Hendrick and TRD have completely changed the landscape and eliminated competition and effectively prohibited any viable new competition from starting. Now that Dodge is gone I don’t see any other car companies coming on board this mess. They have all done the same math Dodge did…if the stars all allign perfectly you win and sell cars. If they don’t you don’t win and don’t sell cars. In this market sponsoring winners makes you a winner, sponsoring second level teams and start ups makes you a loser and is just money down the drain.

  12. jeepr Says:
    August 11th, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    just for the record when daimler (mercedes) bought the old chrysler the ceo aclose personal friend of penske made a priority to switch the team to dodge and paid penske 20 million to make the change. hell for a small portion of that i might even consider driving a below par

  13. Adam Says:
    August 12th, 2012 at 11:40 am

    NASCAR is still the hardest form of motorsports to win in. I really do not think Roger Penske who has been with Ford for many years and owner of Detroit diesel and legendary Penske mustangs really needs a dodge car to win in cup. Penske cars always win just like Jack Rousch and Rick Hendrick cars. Ps. I was not talking about a Shelby cobra of the 60s. I was talking about that bad Ford Mustang cobra with a small block v8 pushing 700 Hp with no problem at all and the corvettes that do the same thing too off of a old pushrod v8 ls6 design of the ls1 series. The mustang cobras can do that for under 50 k too. The chargers and challengers have just started catching a lot of attention for the first time in 30 years. The viper is a great race car I have watched it many times at the Glenn the rt 10 was very good back in the early 90s. Which reminded me very much of the Ac cobra but still packed with a huge V10 dodge truck motor. Man I wonder what a mustang cobra would do with a 500 plus cubic inch engine and all carbon fiber and titanium alloy chassis design added to it pushing the price to 150 and easily blowing 1000 hp. USA motors did it years ago with big block Detroit power they can sure do it again with no problem in a stock style race car that ways 3400 lbs plus. I will gladly route for the blue oval of ford for years to come. It just made my decision a heck of a lot easier between buying a Camaro a mustang or a challenger.

  14. Russ Says:
    August 12th, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Adam, have you checked out the 50 unserialized Mustangs Ford built for people who want to run them at track days,etc.? A real race car, or at least 90%, right out of the factory.
    Theres a pretty cool video of the build process in the factory on the net. There was an all Viper touring series last year, dont know about this year though.
    And you are correct the factories are doing some very cool things that are relatively affordable. Not just the big 3 though. The Europeans will sell you something that wont get you embarrassed either.