McReynolds: ‘Sometimes when we stay the same, we stay stale and don’t grow. Sometimes change can be good.’
On Monday, Reuters reported the France family, majority owners of NASCAR, is exploring the possible sale of NASCAR.
Below are quotes from Monday’s NASCAR RACE HUB telecast on FS1, during which FOX NASCAR analysts Larry McReynolds (former crew chief) and Bobby Labonte (former NASCAR champion) discussed with co-hosts Adam Alexander and Shannon Spake the reported possible sale, including their reactions, where any impact could be felt, how the sport could be improved and more.
Spake: You have been in this sport for decades. Have you ever heard anything so specific about NASCAR or the France family possibly selling NASCAR?
“This is my 38th year in NASCAR and I’ve never even heard rumblings of anything like this. I pride myself on keeping my ear to the ground when I’m at the track, but I had not heard any rumors whatsoever over the last few weeks or months or since this season started.”
“I have been in that NASCAR hauler several times and have had talks with the France family at different times in my career, and this is definitely a shock. I’ve never heard this talked about or even had any inclination about it. As long as I’ve been around the sport, I’d never heard about it. This is news to me.”
Spake: Do NASCAR fans care who owns the sport?
“I can’t speak for the fans but my knee-jerk reaction is they don’t care. I am a Carolina Panthers fan. I have been a PSL owner since the very beginning in 1995. We know the Panthers are for sale, and I don’t really care who owns the Carolina Panthers, as long as they have a good football team and are competitive on the field. I don’t think the fans really care. Sometimes change is what we need. Sometimes when we stay the same, we stay stale and we don’t grow. Sometimes change can be good.”
Alexander: If you’re still a driver and you hear the news that NASCAR possibly is for sale, what is your reaction?
“I’m not really thinking about it quite as much. Maybe there are car owners or track owners thinking about it more, but as far as drivers go, I think NASCAR racing will continue whether it’s with a different owner or not. As a driver, I’m still racing week-in and week-out, going for a championship or a win.”
Alexander: The Carolina Panthers, up for sale, is estimated to be worth between $2 billion and $2.5 billion. When it comes to motorsports, Formula One was sold for just over $4 billion. If I came to you and said I’d like to partner with you to buy NASCAR, what would be your first recommendation?
“I’d have to take a look at everything, the whole picture. What can we do to make racing more exciting, if that’s what we need to do? How do we get more people in the grandstands? How do we get more revenue coming in? We’re all going to have different inputs, but at the end of the day, how do we make it better?”
“What’s fickle about our sport right now is the competition is as good as it’s ever been. We keep chasing something that I’m not sure what we’re chasing. We can’t live back in the day, but this sport was started, built on and grew on a benevolent dictatorship-type format. Now we have the RTA, owners’ council, drivers’ council, and I feel they are steering the ship right now and I’m not sure that’s the healthiest thing for the sport.”
Spake: Do you think track owners are worried about a possible contraction of the season schedule, given that ISC owns 12 tracks on the NASCAR circuit?
“I think they rightly should be a little concerned and nervous. But I’m in Kevin Harvick’s corner on this. He has been very vocal in saying our schedule needs to be shaken up. We need some new tracks. We don’t need to be going to some of these tracks twice, and if this truly happens, that could be the answer.”