Brian France: 'All voices need to be heard'
July 21, 2014, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com
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NASCAR will continue to solicit and listen to many different opinions in the garage area, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said, even if some of the sport's top car owners decide to speak with one voice.
"The last thing we would want to do is not talk to everybody so we can understand where the truth lies, or the best that we can tell," France said Monday in an interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "So that's why one voice -- it's just a bad idea."
The interview was among France's first public comments on the Race Team Alliance, the coalition of nine Sprint Cup Series teams that announced its formation earlier this month. According to the RTA, the organization's purpose is to "create an open forum for teams to explore areas of common interest and to work collaboratively on initiatives to help preserve, promote and grow the sport of stock car racing."
Rob Kauffman, co-owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, is chairman of the RTA. Sprint Cup organizations participating are Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.
As far as France is concerned, the presence of the alliance does not change the way NASCAR does business -- which is to solicit multiple opinions.
"We didn’t think it was necessary, and we thought that the benefits that they would arrive at with this association would be much smaller than they do. But they're smart guys, and so they may figure out some things that we're not aware of. ... The one thing that is central to NASCAR, though, is when you hear one voice -- that would probably the worst thing that we could ever do, is to listen to one voice, even if it were a consensus voice," France said.
"In every decision that we've ever made that's important, the more input, the more people we’ve heard from, the better the result. And so that will never change in the business model of NASCAR, because the ideas come from all over the place, and that's the strength that we have. Our communications have never been better with the (manufacturers), the car companies, the team owners, drivers, and the like. We've just got to keep building on that and getting the best outcome that we can."
France said NASCAR will continue to deal directly with individual owners. Toward that end, he said he spoke with Rick Hendrick last week and even talked recently with Kauffman.
"That's how we've historically done it. Look, they're smart guys, there are some benefits they see in forming the RTA. We respect that. These are some of the brightest guys in business. If they think there are some real benefits, then we may not agree, but we'll certainly respect them," France told Sirius XM.
"They're smart guys, they're entitled to approach their business in certain ways, and we're going to respect that," he added. "But, we're going to go down the road of dealing with all the team owners. Not most of them, not the big ones, all of them. And that's the best outcome that we can get."
France cited as an example the development of the Generation-6 Sprint Cup car, which was the result of an industry-wide effort. Its predecessor, the vehicle introduced in 2007 and formerly known as the Car of Tomorrow, did not succeed in part because not enough people were involved, he added.
"When we don't get the input from every team owner, not a consensus among the big guys ... we always miss something," he said. "We now know that better than ever. Look at the original car that I said was a mistake on my part; not because of any one thing, but because we didn't communicate back in '07. ... And you roll the clock forward, and you look at how we collaborated with the car manufacturers and all the team owners. We got a much better outcome from doing that, and we know that. If we ever drift away from that, we need to get right back to it. So all voices need to be heard, and that's exactly what we need to do."
-- France said the movement toward a new Sprint Cup engine package is being accelerated, "but it's a ways off," he added. "... The cost will be a huge deciding factor on where we end up and how fast we can go. But, we have got to lower the cost to supply engines. It's too high, and it's not where we need to be. So we are hard at work to try and accelerate that for the future."
-- France also added that the 2015 Sprint Cup schedule is on track to be released in September, and again hinted that changes are afoot. "It's not going to be a dramatic change, but there will be some things that are a little different," he said. "But that's not unusual. We do that. You come back to moving dates around, we don't do a lot of it, but we do a little of it from time to time, and this will be one of those moments."