NASCAR Faces Big Decision On When To Race

The virtual racing has been cute and kept everyone entertained but NASCAR needs to get back to the real thing, quickly, for the financial and mental health of the sport.

NASCAR Faces Big Decision On When To Race

The virtual racing has been cute and kept everyone entertained but NASCAR needs to get back to the real thing, quickly, for the financial and mental health of the sport.

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – APRIL 19: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) (Editors note: This image was computer generated in-game) Timmy Hill, driver of the #66 Pit Boss Totota, races during the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series Toyota Owners 150at Richmond Raceway on April 19, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR — really, almost all levels of professional racing — is not built to withstand a shutdown of any sort. Team owners are on their own to figure out how to pay the bills. If someone wants to race, they find whatever sponsorship they can and try to spread it over the longest season in sports at nearly 11 months.

NASCAR does have a 10-year, $8.2 billion television deal with Fox and NBC Sports, but the teams get just 25% of that money and the checks come only after a race is completed.

There hasn’t been a race since March 8.

Eight events have postponed so far because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A lot of sponsors are withholding payments until their logos are again shown at the track.

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – MARCH 13: A general view of the track and pit road at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 13, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia. NASCAR is suspending races due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Here is the desperate truth: Nobody is making any money right now and the longer NASCAR is shuttered, the deeper the financial hit will be for an industry already battling a slew of challenges.

Every metric worth caring about has been in nearly a decade-long decline. Team owners bought themselves some security three years ago via charters with NASCAR, but they are sold at market rate. The market, FYI, hasn’t been so great.

NASCAR has already made pay cuts and a round of staff layoffs. It’s a privately owned company primarily by Jim France and his niece Lesa France Kennedy. The family last October paid $2 billion to swallow its publicly-owned sister company, International Speedway Corp., in a move NASCAR President Steve Phelps has argued proved the France commitment to the 72-year-old stock car series.

What the Frances do and how they choose to spend their money is of no say to the car owners, who must figure out how long they can keep the lights on at the shop without any income. They can exist on borrowed time or they can fold.

HAMPTON, GEORGIA – MARCH 13: A general view of the garage area at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 13, 2020 in Hampton, Georgia. NASCAR is suspending races due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Some team owners are still paying employees, others have issued pay cuts. And some organizations have gone with layoffs and furloughs.

In the end, no member of the NASCAR industry will not be affected.

Teams, primarily based in the greater Charlotte area, are shuttered under North Carolina’s stay-at-home order and local politicians have recognized the urgency in their financial plights. Five North Carolina Republican senators asked Gov. Roy Cooper to allow NASCAR to hold the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24 without fans.

“Allowing NASCAR to return Memorial Day weekend without fans would not only benefit an industry that calls our state home, it would mark a new beginning for North Carolina’s tourism, entertainment and service industries that are desperate to open for business,” House Speaker Tim Moore said Monday.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 26: A general view of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Even if Moore doesn’t permit the Memorial Day spectacular, NASCAR and its leaders will almost surely find hosts to help it keep its vow to complete its remaining 32 races especially as states begin to relax restrictions.

In fact, the race to be the first track back on the schedule is already on.

Florida and Texas have already said NASCAR is welcome. The series could eventually get to Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee or Atlanta Motor Speedway.

“Texas Motor Speedway will work aggressively with the sanctioning bodies and TV networks to give American society, as well as people around the world, a positive distraction during this crisis,” said Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway.

FORT WORTH, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 03: A general view of the action during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 03, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

The teams, meanwhile, just wait.

The drivers gamely try to represent sponsors in a weekly virtual iRacing league and it was a record-setting esports smash until Kyle Larson was fired for using a racial slur during a non-NASCAR event. Toss in politics with Fox and NASCAR over rules to make a better television show that came at the expense of lesser-known drivers and people have started to sour.

Virtual racing still works for IndyCar and other series — those teams operate on much smaller budgets — but NASCAR has to be the leader in getting the cars running again. The series simply can’t afford not to make a bold move and throw the green flag to restart its season.

© 2020 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Flint Still Has No Trust 6 Years After Fateful Water Switch

Saturday marks six years since Flint switched its drinking water source to the Flint River.

Flint Still Has No Trust 6 Years After Fateful Water Switch

FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) — Saturday marks six years since Flint switched its drinking water source to the Flint River.

The decision led to contaminated tap water in homes across the city.

Lives forever changed. Countless children now beginning to show the effects of lead poisoning. Multiple people died of Legionnaires’ disease. And the community’s trust in their government is broken.

As they do most mornings in Flint, cars lined up to get bottled water Tuesday from a distribution site. The donation came from celebrity Hill Harper and the National Clean Water Collective.

“This right here is a blessing to give me the opportunity to get a couple bottles,” said Janeen Layton, who lives in Flint.

The community is still grateful for the generosity of people from across the country. Countless water bottles have been shipped to Flint to help lift the financial burden from an already impoverished community.

“We’re on a fixed income. So, we really need this and God bless the people helping us out with this,” fellow resident Myra Dawson said.

People in Flint still use the water for everyday needs.

“You can’t really brush your teeth or take your bath in the water; because at one time, me and my family was breaking out from the water,” Dawson said.

Layton added, “It’s really been frustrating; because I broke out with rashes and stuff from the water. I was worried about my youngest grandbaby at the time because I couldn’t give him the water.”

After multiple alarms were sounded, the drinking water source was switched in October 2015.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy continues to report the city’s drinking water has tested well below the federal action levels of the Lead and Copper Rule for more than three years in a row.

But, that means nothing to a community that said their trust still hasn’t been restored.

“I don’t blame them at all,” Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said.

He said lead service line replacement is 85% complete. Crews went back to work Monday restoring front yards and sidewalks damaged in the process.

“I can guarantee you this that when we talk about year 7, people are going to talk about ‘remember when’ we were undergoing the repair of this crisis,” Neeley said.

The-CNN-Wire & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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