NFL Ownership? Lessons learned from NASCAR & Stewart-Haas Racing

By Scott King

Twitter/X: @NFLFantasy_More

Wait, this isn’t football!!!! In a slow offseason day here are some thoughts on NASCAR and a note on how it differs from NFL Ownership.

In a surprising turn of events, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has announced it will be closing its doors and selling its charters along with its entire team and assets. This decision marks the end of an illustrious chapter in NASCAR history, raising questions about the future landscape of the sport. As one of the most successful teams in recent years, the departure of SHR signifies a monumental shift, not just for its loyal fan base but for the entire NASCAR community.

NASCAR Ownership: A Unique Landscape

To understand the impact of SHR’s exit, it’s essential to grasp how NASCAR’s ownership structure differs from other major sports leagues, such as the NFL.

In football, team ownership operates under a collective model. The NFL teams’ owners essentially “own” the league. They form a powerful collective that governs the league and appoints a commissioner to handle day-to-day operations and ensure the league’s smooth functioning. This model provides a level of shared control and influence among the teams, allowing them to collectively shape the league’s direction and policies.

NASCAR, however, operates under a different paradigm. Teams purchase charters, which are akin to franchises, for around $30 million. These charters guarantee entry into races and a share of the revenue, but they do not grant the same level of control over the sport as seen in the NFL. NASCAR is primarily controlled by the France family, making it more similar to organizations like WWE or UFC, where a single family or individual maintains overarching control. This structure means that while teams invest heavily in charters and their operations, they remain subject to the central authority and strategic decisions of the France family.

The Rise and Legacy of Stewart-Haas Racing

Stewart-Haas Racing, co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, has been a powerhouse in NASCAR since its inception in 2009. The team quickly made its mark with an aggressive and innovative approach, winning multiple championships and becoming a formidable competitor in the NASCAR Cup Series. Drivers like Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Clint Bowyer, among others, have driven SHR cars to victory lane, solidifying the team’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

The Decision to Close: Factors and Implications

The decision to close SHR and sell its assets is multifaceted. Financial pressures, the evolving landscape of NASCAR, and the broader economic environment likely all played a role. While the sale of charters will provide a significant influx of capital, the departure of a major team like SHR underscores the challenges teams face in the current NASCAR model.

This move will undoubtedly have ripple effects throughout the sport. Other teams may reconsider their positions, and new entities might step in to fill the void. However, the loss of a well-established team with a proven track record also raises concerns about the stability and long-term viability of the current ownership and operational model in NASCAR.

NASCAR’s Future: A Turning Point

Stewart-Haas Racing’s closure is a stark reminder of the delicate balance within NASCAR. The sport relies heavily on the investment and passion of its teams, but the centralized control by the France family means that the broader strategic decisions rest with a select few. As the sport evolves, there may be calls for a reevaluation of this structure to ensure sustainability and growth.

The NASCAR community will keenly watch how the sale of SHR’s charters and assets unfolds and what new opportunities or challenges arise from this significant change. For fans, the legacy of Stewart-Haas Racing will remain a testament to the competitive spirit and innovation that drives NASCAR.

As we bid farewell to SHR, we remember the victories, the unforgettable races, and the indelible mark left on the sport. The end of Stewart-Haas Racing is not just the conclusion of a team’s journey but a pivotal moment in NASCAR’s ongoing story, one that will shape its future in ways yet to be seen.