AH challenge: balance money in professional motor racing

This is actually inspired by something I read just today, said by no less than Shirley: guys with money own the sport.

Is it possible to take most (maybe not all) the big money out without killing racing? (I'm mainly thinking drag racing, here, but the insane amounts spent in F1 apply, too.)

Is there a way to equalize things for smaller (TF/D & TF/FC) teams? Like, if you agree to run a certain level of equipment (no 18 wheeler, say), you get to have a 700ci engine instead of 500ci? (And if you do it, at season's end, you get a bigger share of the TV contract, or something?) Or just ban owners from running more than one car? (That wouldn't help the "privateers" {single-car teams; nobody really runs a genuine privateer any more, AFAIK}, or any teams who can't attract major sponsors...)

Any thoughts?
 
The problem is that cars inherently cost money. I'd suggest this issue vastly predates the car; the ancients would have bitched about the people with money winning all the chariot races in the hippodromes.
 
The problem is that cars inherently cost money. I'd suggest this issue vastly predates the car; the ancients would have bitched about the people with money winning all the chariot races in the hippodromes.
The difference is how much money sponsors make available, but only to (comparatively) small numbers of teams. Yeah, I know, they're sponsoring the most successful, but that's a bit self-fulfilling: teams with more money can afford to press harder & so they do better & attract more money...

An outright ban would do it, but that (IMO) hinders racing more than it helps. Or seems to...
 

CalBear

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There’s your solution. No TV. No major sponsors. No money.

Possibly no sport either, but if it survives it will be a low-budget affair. That will still be dominated by those with the biggest small budget, but hopefully within the reach of amateurs.
What you would wind up with is the sort of hobbyist local racing you see on local dirt tracks and the dwindling number of local 1/8 and 1/4 drag strips in the U.S. There is still some money, but the top purse is a couple thousand dollars, up to maybe $30-40K for season champions. That pays for a couple years of the car in competition, but the rest of the time people are scraping by with used everything and have their buddies who learned welding or engine repair in Vocational School trade a few hours work for BBQ and Coor's.

It also gets harder as cars evolve. Modern cars are really lousy to to work on without the right tech since everything is computer controlled. There are also fewer suitable cars floating around, and especially suitable engines. You can get tons of performance out od modern small displacement turbo engines, but it is EXPENSIVE. Otherwise, especially on a drag strip, you wind up with some grizzled out dude coming out with '66 Chevelle that he's been running for 50 years with a stroked small block that blows you off the track, at leaat until the engine finally hand grenades or he gets to the age that his reactions suck.

Racing, regardless of type, is a rich man's sport, always has been. even simple "I can run to the river faster than you" was, by the late 1800s, a 'Gentleman's sport" since they were the only ones who could take the time to train since everyone else was working 12 hours a day in a factory or Sun to Sun on a farm/ranch.

Nature of the beast.
 
There’s your solution. No TV. No major sponsors. No money.

Possibly no sport either, but if it survives it will be a low-budget affair. That will still be dominated by those with the biggest small budget, but hopefully within the reach of amateurs.
That absolutely isn't what I wanted.:eek::eek::eek:

I never imagined no TV coverage.:eek:
There are also fewer suitable cars floating around, and especially suitable engines. You can get tons of performance out od modern small displacement turbo engines, but it is EXPENSIVE.
At the levels I'm thinking of, nobody runs a small-cube turbo. :eek: The Pros are generally running aluminum 500ci V8s. In the Fuel classes, the nitro & those giant 14-71s literally mean the engines are supposed to last the 1320 & no more: as Shirley noted (in another interview), if you haven't burned a piston, you haven't pushed it enough, & if you grenade it, you've pushed a bit hard... That's expensive, no question.

I do appreciate, racing broadly's always been a rich man's sport. Drag racing's uniquely not that way. Its roots are the hobbyist racers, not the gentlemen (or rich poseurs) of Grand Prix. I'm trying to return drag racing to those roots & keep it (take it) away from the guys who only buy a ride. (A bit like trying to turn back the tide of buying show-winning custom cars, rather than building your own.)

I wouldn't prevent the Fuel & Pro classes from having enough parts to last eight passes (even in a field of 32, I don't think the qualifying tree gets bigger than than), even if that meant a spare engine. I would, I think, draw the line at a spare chassis. I'd definitely ban multi-car teams as antithetical to the spirit of drag racing.

I wonder if it can't be done with a kind of contingency fund, where NHRA (a bit like F1) pays a percentage of its TV money based on points scored at season's end. (IDK what NHRA's TV deal looks like, so no idea how much money is at play; this might actually make things worse.:eek: ) Add to that a larger contingency fund, if it's possible: encourage existing sponsors to increase what they pay, & broaden the base (so just running with the sponsor's decal earns a payoff, regardless of position), but ban "name" sponsors who finance the whole team. It's possible to finance a Super Stock team on contingency, AIUI; with a bit (lot?) more money in the fund, it might be possible to run a Fuel car on it.
 
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DougM

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Well without money you can’t have professional anything. Because it can’t be a profession if you are not paid.
This goes double for racing as SOMEONE has to pay for the track, the cars, the fuel and the crews.
So I don’t see how you take the money out of racing and still have racing unless it just becomes club racing and even then you have money the car own pays to use the track pays for insurance and pays to buy and maintain a car.
 
Well without money you can’t have professional anything. Because it can’t be a profession if you are not paid.
This goes double for racing as SOMEONE has to pay for the track, the cars, the fuel and the crews.
So I don’t see how you take the money out of racing and still have racing unless it just becomes club racing and even then you have money the car own pays to use the track pays for insurance and pays to buy and maintain a car.
As noted in the OP, I'm not trying to make amateur racing, just take the extremes out. (Should the title have been clearer? Maybe...)
 
Racing, regardless of type, is a rich man's sport, always has been. even simple "I can run to the river faster than you" was, by the late 1800s, a 'Gentleman's sport" since they were the only ones who could take the time to train since everyone else was working 12 hours a day in a factory or Sun to Sun on a farm/ranch.

Actually not true. Its only the Olympics deliberately excluding professional athletes that makes it seem so, Prior to that Sponsorship from rich gambling folk ( in England but hell if he is American and run we will bet on him) ensured that promising prospects at all levels had time to train and a purse at the end. After all Cricket has been a professional sport since the 1680s
 
The difference is how much money sponsors make available, but only to (comparatively) small numbers of teams. Yeah, I know, they're sponsoring the most successful, but that's a bit self-fulfilling: teams with more money can afford to press harder & so they do better & attract more money...

An outright ban would do it, but that (IMO) hinders racing more than it helps. Or seems to...
You're missing that banning sponsors is impossible as the car itself is a product, you end up as Ford v Mercedes v Ferrari (etc) cars running without advertisement but totally funded by the manufactures as gifts to the best races simply, so they can put up words and pictures in the showrooms about how they are the best/fastest cars to buy........
 
You're missing that banning sponsors is impossible as the car itself is a product, you end up as Ford v Mercedes v Ferrari (etc) cars running without advertisement but totally funded by the manufactures as gifts to the best races simply, so they can put up words and pictures in the showrooms about how they are the best/fastest cars to buy........
You're presupposing the factories will just give cars away. AFAIK, that never happened, & they stopped even giving deep discounts in the '60s (at least in North American racing, & in particular in drag racing). (That's aside what happens in F1, where the factory actually pays for the team operations.) There is no Top Fuel chassis builder (TF/D or TF/FC) likely to give cars away; they can't afford to. I doubt you'd find a Pro Stock builder that could, either.

Banning sponsors would mean, frex, no Wynn's Charger for Garlits or Marlboro colors on Senna & Prost's McLarens. (Would that be the end of many F1 teams? Probably.) Garlits (in his prime), Force (today), & others could probably scrape by on contingency, but the fields are likely to be smaller, & the competition much more uneven. :eek:
 
You're presupposing the factories will just give cars away. AFAIK, that never happened, & they stopped even giving deep discounts in the '60s (at least in North American racing, & in particular in drag racing). (That's aside what happens in F1, where the factory actually pays for the team operations.) There is no Top Fuel chassis builder (TF/D or TF/FC) likely to give cars away; they can't afford to. I doubt you'd find a Pro Stock builder that could, either.
The problem isn't with top fuel etc its with stock and rally cars that look like the one that the manufactures are wanting to sell to people in large numbers, they will happily give away cars if not simply run fully funded teams to show off the latest cars and that they have the best.

I would add that is drag racing not already really a very small part of overall motor sport and without money it would simply get even smaller than the better funded parts?
 
One way would be to have association rules where any Sponsor for an individual team has to pay a proportion into a Sponsors pool fund. This fund is then used to level up the funding on the least sponsored teams. The higher the short fall between the most sponsored teams and the aggregate funding the higher the pool fund contribution becomes.

It could also be done by the way TV revenues are divvied out.
Only by giving a level financial playing field can you stop the dominance of the richest teams.
 

CalBear

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Make Stock Car Racing actually having to use stock chassis, as was the case before the late 1970s.
This leads to one of the biggest cost centers in modern racing - The basic racing platform and, by extension what has become an incredibly costly part of racing, safety.

Using U.S. NASCAR ("Stock Cars") as an example, the entire sport would have died somewhere in the early-mid 1980s as the potential platforms simply disappeared in the wave of FWD Unibody V6 coupes and sedans as manufactures scrambled to deal with CAFE, increasing stringent Smog and safety (i.e. 5mph bumpers), and the raft of other changes that transformed the American auto industry post Oil Shock II without going to fully fabricated tubular frames. Once that happened all the rest of the changes that followed were pretty much a given. The body styles that were coming out of Detroit were straight-up death traps at any sort of speed (between 1975 and 1994 nine NASCAR Cup Series drivers were killed, even with the gradual changes that took cars for "stock" to purpose built racing vehicles).

The same goes for most other sorts of racing, with F1 being the most remarkable example. It went from being a straight up slaughterhouse (14 drivers killed in the same 20 year period as shown above) and many others crippled for life when cars hit the barrier, to having exactly one fatal accident during an actual Grand Prix event or practice, and drivers literally walking away from wrecks that look completely unsurvivable. You see much the same in today's IndyCar and U.S. drag racing. Safety costs a fortune. It also absolutely requires a specially designed and built racing platform.

One way would be to have association rules where any Sponsor for an individual team has to pay a proportion into a Sponsors pool fund. This fund is then used to level up the funding on the least sponsored teams. The higher the short fall between the most sponsored teams and the aggregate funding the higher the pool fund contribution becomes.

It could also be done by the way TV revenues are divvied out.
Only by giving a level financial playing field can you stop the dominance of the richest teams.
What, then, would be advantage of seeking out sponsors? The idea is to get the right match that allows you to put the best vehicle on the track. In return the sponsor gets additional exposure throughout the race and afterwards as broadcasts of the race and news reports afterward show the sponsors name prominently displayed (for several years this was the only way for certain products, especially cigarettes to get TV "ad time"). As a sponsor, why spend any money at all if you are really sponsoring all the cars, including many that do not provide you any exposure at all?


The reality is that high dollars = higher performance. It would be great to think that by taking a lot of money out of the sport you would get more variety, more "privateers", more scrappy little guys given the Big Boys the occasional black eye. The actual reality is that those scrappy little guys spent a lot of time getting lapped and attending funerals. The heydays of NASCAR would see Richard Petty sometimes win by six or seven LAPS and most races finish with only a few drivers even on the lead lap.

In F1 there has always been one manufacturer who dominated, then wound up as back-markers (or off the grid entirely). The one thing that has been consistent is performance improvements. To use Sãn Paulo as an example - Since it was last redesigned in 1990 the race times, for the same race distance, has decreased by four minutes.
 

dcharleos

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PoD: Oprah loves dirt-track!




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The body styles that were coming out of Detroit were straight-up death traps at any sort of speed (between 1975 and 1994 nine NASCAR Cup Series drivers were killed, even with the gradual changes that took cars for "stock" to purpose built racing vehicles
Though more safety put forward by NHTSA on stock vehicles transfer over when made race cars.
An I like the idea of NASCAR teams trying to get the most out of a real '86 Taurus chassis and 120hp 3.8L V6.
They won't be needing restrictions plates for a long time.
 
American autosports enthusiasts often trace its roots to the early days of the Second Revolution, when steely smugglers broke capitalist blockades with their modified vehicles. This romantic image is largely a myth, but it was during the Revolution that many Americans had their first exposure to motorcars, still a new invention at that time. After the seizures of manufacturing facilities in Michigan, collectivist forces began mass production of the Folkswagon Type-1 (formerly the Ford Model T) for the war effort. Due to varying quality of materials and craftsmen, many of these early models were prone to frequent breakdowns, making mechanical know-how a matter of life and death for the average revolutionary solider. In the years after the Revolution, most T-1s were decommissioned from government service and distributed across the nation through local cadres. These community cars were shared between one or more neighborhood associations, workers' syndicates, or farmers' collectives. Community cars were often heavily modified for improved efficiency and functionality to fit the needs of the custodial group. The community car also served as an ad-hoc symbol of its custodians, and increasingly they were modified for aesthetic and recreational uses.

The inter-community car race soon became a regular feature of friendly local competition, alongside baseball and industrial quota fulfilment. A patchwork collection of T-1 racing leagues sprang up across the country, with little in the way of formal rules or oversight. This changed with the intervention of Minister of Automobile Industry Roland Thomas, who wanted to formalize the sport and turn it into a symbol of American workers' ingenuity. In 1942, the American Autosports Association was founded, holding its first competition outside Debs City, with Chairman Willkie himself in attendance. AAA standardized rules on pit crew size (no more than five), parts usage (only those available to all workers) and counterrevolutionary activity (not allowed).

In the following years, there were attempts to create other racing leagues outside of these "stock car" races, or to modify the rules of play. In a 1958 decision, newer model cars were allowed into AAA, the so called "T-2 Judgement Day". The Supercar League of the late 1960s featured purpose-built racing vehicles, but despite their much greater speeds Americans continued to favor the humble stock racer. Interest in the sport has spread to other socialist nations, with international competition today united under the North Atlantic Socialist Championship Autosports Racing organization.
 
The problem isn't with top fuel etc its with stock and rally cars that look like the one that the manufactures are wanting to sell to people in large numbers
I'm less concerned with that, myself. You're not wrong, but I'm trying (mostly) to fix Top Fuel (& that's a proper noun, BTW).
I would add that is drag racing not already really a very small part of overall motor sport and without money it would simply get even smaller than the better funded parts?
It is (comparatively) small. That doesn't mean the fans should suffer little or no competition.

One way would be to have association rules where any Sponsor for an individual team has to pay a proportion into a Sponsors pool fund. This fund is then used to level up the funding on the least sponsored teams. The higher the short fall between the most sponsored teams and the aggregate funding the higher the pool fund contribution becomes.

It could also be done by the way TV revenues are divvied out.
Only by giving a level financial playing field can you stop the dominance of the richest teams.
Both of those sound like excellent ideas. (As noted, I was hoping for a larger contingency fund, where sponsors who pay into it have to put up more money, rather than asking name sponsors to also pay, but that might work.)
What, then, would be advantage of seeking out sponsors? The idea is to get the right match that allows you to put the best vehicle on the track. In return the sponsor gets additional exposure throughout the race and afterwards as broadcasts of the race and news reports afterward show the sponsors name prominently displayed (for several years this was the only way for certain products, especially cigarettes to get TV "ad time"). As a sponsor, why spend any money at all if you are really sponsoring all the cars, including many that do not provide you any exposure at all?
That's it: nobody would have to, because there'd no longer be an advantage in it. If it's done on a contingency basis, you get the exposure (even TV) from having the decals on the car(s), but not by being the name sponsor. (There might be a larger payout for a larger decal...but it would mostly be from the driver/team finishing better, as it is now.) Sponsors would put less money in each, but no one team would be able to "lock down" megadeals nobody else could get. (It would also prevent decent drivers losing name sponsors to drivers/teams as an economy measure; to name just one example, Lori Johns lost Jolly Rancher to Force, & JR only put a comparatively small sticker or Force's flopper...)
Make Stock Car Racing actually having to use stock chassis, as was the case before the late 1970s.
Not happening. Stock chassis will never be safe enough. They weren't, really, even in the '60s, which is why the cages developed, & ultimately the tube chassis silhouette cars you see now: an OEM chassis is in no way suited to absorb impacts at the 160+mph speeds common then, let alone nearly 200mph common now.

Safety is an entirely separate issue, which probably deserves its own thread.

However...I wonder if putting limits on displacement or use might not help. Like requiring a Fuel/Pro team to run one engine all weekend, no changes or rebuilds (new parts) allowed. That would obviously mean cranking down the boost & nitro fraction, which would bring speeds down, which would mean less risk of injury in case of blowover (or other incident) & less chance of popping a blower...which would bring costs down from fewer grenaded engines & burnt up parts.
 
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