• GRID Staff

2020 Awry Racing Season


Episode Transcript Below


Uncertainty over the 2020 season grew with the collapse of oil, what happened and how will it affect auto racing? NASCAR has several tracks bidding for the first race after the hiatus, who will get it? Two tracks in South Dakota going forward with racing this weekend, is it too early, or a preview of what future races may look like? My name is Joe Samaniego, welcome to GRID Tonight.


Hello everyone welcome to GRID Tonight, today is Wednesday April 22, 2020.


Oil Collapse

We start with the news that has sent even more uncertainty into the awry 2020 racing season. Monday oil prices crashed to negative digits after low sales and surplus of oil has accumulated to the point where there is too much supply and not even demand during the current global pandemic. Prices did rebound as June tends to see more demand across the board for oil. Still the industry is looking at a bleak future ahead.


For more details on what happened Monday with the oil prices in the stock market, be sure to visit NPR Planet Money Oil Less Than Zero episode, the link is down below in the video description. Essentially with the pandemic, as people are traveling less, the supply of oil is building up, to the point we are running out of space to store it. This has a chain effect as more oil is produced in an already saturated market. This reduces the value of oil and the oil companies.


Oil is not a product that can be disposed of if not used like stale doughnuts at a shop. The excess oil means lower prices and with less dependence on oil that slump can last a long time.


We asked Nate O’Brien from the Nate O’Brien show what effect will this have on events and organizations that receive sponsorship money from the oil petroleum industry?


Nate O’Brien responded that “marketing budgeting will most definitely be tightened in nearly every industry during this economic climate.” You can watch The Nate O’Brien Show episode “The Collapse of Oil Prices” the link is in the video description below.


This projection leaves the motorsport industry concerned about sponsorship agreements as businesses focus on surviving the current business climate. Even though oil prices improved Tuesday, the overall industry is still in trouble. The oil petroleum industry has a major presence in all forms of motorsports, even branching into Formula E with Shell sponsoring the Nissan team.


Other notable sponsors include Repsol with Honda’s MotoGP team, Exxon/Mobil sponsorship of Stewart Haas Racing, and Shell sponsorship of Penske Racing, Ferrari F1, and Hyundai WRC. No comment has been made by any team or racing series regarding sponsorship concerns.


VASC Sponsorship Issues

Separate from oil, Monday it was first reported that Virgin Atlantic/Australia was going to declare administration as it faces financial trouble. Tuesday morning in Australia, Virgin Australia voluntarily entered into Administration. This is following a failed attempt to receive a 1.4 billion dollar bailout from the federal government. The airline started facing financial difficulties when the mass shutdown effort began to flatten the virus curve. Virgin Australia is the primary sponsor of the SuperCar series in a deal worth 1.5 million and is built on discount fares for teams across the country, there have been only two races completed so far this season. The current deal between Virgin Australia and Supercars was set to run till the end of 2021.


Later on Tuesday it was announced up to 10 buyers were interested in buying the airline. This would be a relief for the Supercar Series as the current deal may continue on with a new owner. This is one of the first major sponsors in motorsports to show financial trouble since the halt in racing began in may.


NASCAR First Race Location

With Martinsville postponed, no word has been announced on when the NASCAR Cup season will resume the 2020 season. Currently the All Star Race on May 16 is scheduled for the next race. Lawmakers in North Carolina have been urging the Governor Roy Cooper to allow the NASCAR season to resume at Charlotte. The Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez has welcomed the idea of NASCAR restarting their season at Miami Homestead. The Sports Business Daily reported that Darlington Raceway may be the site of a NASCAR race prior to the Coca-Cola 600. This was followed by reports from the Atlantic that Darlington would be an ideal host since it’s a 2 hour drive for most teams. No comment was made by any representatives from Darlington.


Texas Motor Speedway threw it’s hat in, proposing a quadruple race weekend with IndyCar and NASCAR on the same weekend. The proposed super weekend will feature all three NASCAR national series and IndyCar. The change would mean NASCAR would have to modify their season to align with the IndyCar date at Texas Motor Speedway. If NASCAR did agree to such a move, NASCAR would vacate the June 7 date at Michigan since IndyCar races at Texas on June 6. This raises the question of what will happen to Michigan race date.


The quest to host the opening race to restart the 2020 season is over the economic impact and potential high television ratings the event may bring. According to the State Newspaper from South Carolina, research from the USC Darla Moore School of Business reported that the Southern 500 weekend brings over $35 million dollars to the State of South Carolina. While NASCAR has talked about no fans attending the first few races, the number of personnel associated with each team in the area will be a boost in business in the vicinity of the race track.


NASCAR Return

With talks about NASCAR possibly returning in late May or June, the question is what needs to happen to allow racing to resume. Several factors need to be considered, the most important is when the teams are allowed to work again. According to Dustin Long of NBC Sports, the Governor of North Carolina, NASCAR teams are unable to work at the shops with the current order.


While teams are awaiting word, NASCAR is hard at work looking to patch together the remaining 2020 season. This includes health mandates for teams and drivers to ensure the risk of spreading the virus is low. Several media outlets have reported that NASCAR may run shorter events to cut out live pit stops. Even no qualifying or practice is being considered an option.


NASCAR along with all major motorsport series have many different players in trying to save as many events as possible. From the teams, tracks, city, state officials, health advisors, and television networks. NASCAR has said they’re still committed to run all 36 events this season.


Kyle Larson

It has been one week and a day since Kyle Larson was terminated from Chip Ganassi Racing. Following Wednesday's episode of GRID Ranking several developments were reported indicating that Kyle is looking into returning back to the cup series. Bubba Wallace released a statement about Kyle reaching out to him shortly after his comment two Sundays ago. Bubba shared that he and Kyle had a conversation about the word used and Bubba does believe Kyle deserves a second chance, and deserves space to improve.


Racing legend Willy T Ribbs reached out to Kyle Larson and had a sincere discussion about the setback to Kyle’s racing career. Kyle was even invited to visit Willy sometime and Willy has expressed he does believe Kyle Larson. Willy is the first African American to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 in 1991 and is the center of the movie “Uppity” which Kyle reportedly watched. Kyle did enroll in the diversity training and is making an effort to have his suspension lifted and return back to the track.


WRC Solberg bringing a new manufacturer?

Petter Solberg the 2003 WRC Champion is in talks with multiple manufacturers about rejoining WRC. If a deal was to be made Petter would play the role of team manager in a two car effort. Petter won the 2003 championship with Subaru, in 2008 Subaru left WRC.


South Dakota Short Track Racing

Two short tracks in South Dakota are planning to host races this weekend. Park Jefferson International Speedway and Raceway Park outside of Jefferson, South Dakota plan to hold races this weekend. South Dakota is one of the few states in the United States that doesn’t have a stay at home order. Both tracks said they are taking the recommended CDC precautions of social distancing, temperatures check and facemasks are required, hand sanitizers will be placed in more frequent places, and warning signs about the virus will be posted. All race teams and fans must comply with the safety precautions during the day activities.


This might be a good indication of the return of auto racing on a larger scale. There has been talk about NASCAR having temperature checks prior to teams arrival. The main concern in the industry is too soon of return and the spread of the virus at the event. Along with no spectators at events being planned, media access to the racers and teams is expected to be limited.


GRID Ranking & World Motorsport League Update

With all the uncertainty of the 2020 season, the GRID Ranking and World Motorsport League are currently paused right now. While this is technically the third weekend of the GRID Ranking, no changes have occured since there has been no racing. Once racing resumes GRID Live will return as well as other new programs. We invite you to visit our website GRID Ranking.com, our Twitter pages @GRIDRating & @GRID_WML, and we’d love to have you support us by visiting our Patreon page.


Finally be sure to like and subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’re excited to bring more racing news and content, click the bell icon to receive notifications for when we post new videos.


Monday our friends at World Racing Media host Below the Yellow Line, 7PM eastern, 4 Pacific, 3 Alaska time.


Thank you for watching, my name is Joe Samaniego, till next time.


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