Local NASCAR expert says sport ok

nightraceLocal NASCAR expert Dr. Jon Ackley said the sport will continue even if the Big Three go under, but either way major changes are on the way.

Ackley is a professor of management at the VCU School of Business and teaches a Business of NASCAR class. He also helps manage a blog about the business aspects of the sport.

BizSense reported earlier today that Chevrolet will not sponsor the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway after 2009, and that the track will suffer as the Big Three retrench. Ackley said comparable sponsorships at other ISC Motorsports tracks, which owns RIR, cost between $5 or $6 million dollars.“What NASCAR is going to have to recognize, the funding levels they have been accustomed to is not going to be there,” Ackley said.

Recently Camping World replaced Craftsman tools as the official sponsor of NASCAR’s truck series. They will be paying $2 million a year, half of what Craftsman is estimated to have paid for the sponsorship.

“I don’t think locally we’ll see much of an impact. I think it will occur mostly with the teams itself in terms of manufacturer support and manufacturer innovations,” Ackley said.

NASCAR owner Bill France has said the sport will still have 43 teams when the season opens in Daytona, but Ackley expects to see some attrition in the number of team throughout the year, possibly as soon as the second race of the season. He is holding off on making a prediction until January.

NASCAR has already started making operational cuts by placing a ban on off-season testing. The move will save each team about $1 million, but have cost about 1,000 garage workers their jobs. At RIR, the suspension of off season activity has had a minimal impact according to spokesperson Aimee Turner. The track charges teams basic operating costs to test at RIR, and part-time security and medical technicians are the only jobs affected by the ban, she said.

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