NASCAR coronavirus update: All races postponed through May 3rd — here’s everything you need to know –


NASCAR has suspended its season through the first weekend in May, following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to not hold mass gatherings over the next eight weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. While most sports have done that, NASCAR teams have a unique business model reliant on sponsorship and purse money that puts them more at risk during this type of shutdown.

After consulting with many current and former industry executives, here are some answers to questions swirling around the NASCAR world:

What has NASCAR decided?

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NASCAR has postponed seven NASCAR Cup Series race weekends along with any developmental series races: Atlanta (March 15), Homestead (March 22), Texas (March 29), Bristol (April 5), Richmond (April 19), Talladega (April 26) and Dover (May 3). NASCAR hopes to resume its schedule with the May 8-9 weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

When will the postponed races be run?

NASCAR hasn’t announced makeup dates. It will consider all options – multiple races at the same track during a weekend (doubleheaders), midweek races, races during the two off-weekends during the summer and/or extending the season. According to NASCAR rules, the playoffs start with Race 27 as long as the 36-race schedule remains. NASCAR said it is committed to running a 36-race schedule.

Do teams get paid by NASCAR if there is no race?

No. There needs to be a race for teams to get paid by NASCAR. NASCAR pays teams within five business days of the event base on the team’s results.

Do teams get paid by sponsors if there is no race?

Sponsors typically have payments required of them either monthly or quarterly throughout a season.

According to the Hendrick Motorsports contract with past sponsor Farmers Insurance (a public record thanks to a lawsuit involving the broker of the deal), the force majeure clause reads: “If a primary race is cancelled due to a Force Majeure event and not rescheduled, HMS fails to enter a primary race due to force majeure, or a primary race is cancelled by NASCAR, then the parties hereto shall negotiate reasonably and in good faith to arrange for a replacement race, reasonable alternative accommodations, or a mutually agreeable reduction in fees.”

Obviously contracts can vary from team to team, but many in the industry indicated that teams and sponsors would work toward moving the sponsorship to another race. But there also might need to be a negotiation if a sponsor’s business is impacted by the crisis and the sponsor can’t meet its contractual obligations. It also could be impacted by any stimulus package passed that help businesses, if a business can use that funding toward the sponsorship.

Do tracks get paid by sponsors if there is no race?

Race sponsors typically pay prior to the race for the sponsorship. Much like team deals, there would be negotiations to try to move the sponsorship before granting a refund.

The deal between International Speedway Corp. and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority (a public entity and therefore the contract is a public record) for the NASCAR Hall of Fame sponsorship of the Martinsville truck race last year states: “If a major event does not occur during any year of the term, sponsor shall be entitled to receive mutually agreed upon substitute benefits at an affiliated racetrack property for any benefits not delivered to sponsor as result of such major event cancellation. In the event the parties cannot agree on such substitute benefits following good faith negotiations, sponsor shall be entitled to receive a pro-rata refund of the rights fees for any benefits not delivered to sponsor as a result of such major event cancellation.”

Are team shops open?

Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Leavine Family Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Team Penske and Richard Petty Motorsports were among those whose shops were either totally closed or all but closed with essential, very limited personnel. GMS Racing has opted to have certain departments alternate days.

Do crew members get paid?

It depends. Many crew members have salaries. Some pit crew members are paid a base amount for training and working out with the team and then another set fee per race (plus potential bonuses). Many of the smaller teams would pay road crews, spotters, etc., on a race-by-race basis. If there is no race, it is highly unlikely they would get paid.

Does TV pay for races that aren’t aired?

NASCAR’s contract with the TV broadcasters is not public. What is a public record: Dover Motorsports, in its 2019 annual report, states: “If an event is cancelled, we could incur the expenses associated with preparing to conduct the event as well as lose the revenues, including live broadcast revenues associated with the event. If a cancelled event is part of a NASCAR series, we could experience a reduction in the amount of money received from television revenues for all of our NASCAR-sanctioned events in the series that experienced the cancellation. This would occur if, as a result of the cancellation, and without regard to whether the cancelled event was scheduled for one of our facilities, NASCAR experienced a reduction in broadcast revenues greater than the amount scheduled to be paid to the promoter of the cancelled event.”

According to the sanction agreement, a Cup track gets paid the television revenue within 10 days following the event. Dover Motorsports, according to its public financial statements, made approximately $24.7 million from the NASCAR television deal last year for its two Cup weekends – compared to overall admissions of $4.968 million and $6.713 million in other event revenue (sponsorship, concessions, merchandise, etc.).

Will teams be forced to close?

Widespread layoffs and/or furloughs are likely as teams do not have purse money coming in unless NASCAR can come up with a plan to advance teams purse money. Some have suggested NASACAR front the teams last-place money as long as teams guaranteed they would race. There is a concern that not all teams, especially the teams in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, will be able to survive the suspension of the season.

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