Thursday, January 08, 2009

Perfect storm...

The economy's diving into the crapper, the peak energy prices from last year, and the collapse of the auto industry have combined to give motorsports a big kick in the teeth in 2009. F1 isn't coming to North America at all this year (their only trip to the Western Hemisphere is the Sao Paulo race in October), NASCAR's truck series had to get a discount sponsor (Camping World) after Sears pulled out, Indycar is still feeling aftereffects of the Champ Car merger, and in Sprint Cup at least 3 of last year's teams have closed shop entirely (the 01, 15, and 40). Besides that, in the world of Cup we've also seen several teams merge to survive, dropping teams in the process.

- DEI merged with Ganassi, switching Ganassi to Chevy from Dodge in the process

- As of today, Petty has merged with Gillett Evernham, going from a 5-6 car team to 4 cars (only the #43 of Petty will make the move)

- Bill Davis Racing was sold and may not run in 2009

- Furniture Row Racing will only run part-time with 1 car (they had been 1 full-time, 1 part-time)

- The former Wood Brothers #47 is now an affiliate team of Michael Waltrip Racing. GOod for them, because without that Waltrip goes from 3 cars down to 2 (the #00 team was shut down, though the number is being moved to the former #44 team)

- The #4 team is gone (Morgan-McClure)

- The Wood Brothers have kept the #21, but now it'll be a part-time car

- Several races (most notably the Watkins Glen race) have lost sponsorship

Basically, in 2007 there were as many as 8 cars being turned away each Sunday. Last year, there were a couple of cars most weeks that didn't qualify, but the cast varied. In 2009, there will be a few races where NASCAR will be lucky to get a full field of 43.

In other motorsports, Honda is closing their F1 team, and both Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of World Rally Championships.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway sends us a Christmas card every year, by the way. Just thought I should mention it.