While Dodge’s announcement that it is leaving NASCAR at the end of 2012 may not have major reverberations on the track because they only have one organization left actually running their cars, the news must have certainly hit the head offices of NASCAR pretty hard. With lagging ticket sales, a TV package that will soon be renegotiated for what we can only imagine will be far less money than the last one, and now one less American manufacturer on the track every weekend, NASCAR is a long way from the fabled days of the early 2000s when it was the hottest thing since sliced bread. The most damning thing that can befall and organization like NASCAR is a crisis of confidence among its sponsors and advertisers and if they were close to being in one before yesterday, they’re sure as hell in one now. Approaching a large company with a sponsorship package is tough enough, but when you have to field questions like, “If Dodge doesn’t see the value in NASCAR, why should the National Widget Corporation?” The sales teams will be working harder than the race teams now.
There have been no rumblings around Chrysler’s Mopar teams in the NHRA and we’re of the mind that they are in a far better place with Dodge out of NASCAR. The company is planning on spending money in other areas where they think they can lay out less cash and get more return. We’re talking about road racing, rally racing, and other grassroots efforts. On the drag racing side, perhaps the Drag Pack program will get a little more love and attention or maybe an expansion of some sort. Also, with respect to professional level drag racing teams supported in Pro Stock, their current investment, while significant for straight liners, is a drop in the latrine when compared to what was being spent to operate the NASCAR team and all of its accouterments.
There’s also some egg on Dodge’s face as they already revealed their 2013 NASCAR model Charger some time ago. Shortly thereafter, Penske notified Dodge that they were defecting to Ford and the search was put on for a new operation to take over. Since Penske’s operation is a complete deal, meaning they can build cars, motors, etc, Dodge was looking for the same in a replacement. They never found one. Despite what we have heard about hard lobbying from the likes of Richard Petty, Robby Gordon, and several second tier owners, Dodge never saw a viable option and we’re thinking that it made the decision all that much easier, especially after looking at what their current budget is for stock car racing. Dodge’s Ralph Gilles released a video explaining the decision and he touches on several obvious points while making no real mention of any business reasons for leaving NASCAR. We have that video below.
This is the last season you’ll see a Dodge on the track for a long, long time. The price of racing in the series continually escalates and that escalation seems to speed up every year. By the time they decide to investigate coming back, the price tag will be so astronomical, a real business case for reentry may be completely impossible to make.
We think that this is a piece removed from the Jenga game known as the current state of NASCAR.
Press play below to see Ralph Gilles from Chrysler explain their departure from NASCAR!