AUTO RACING

NASCAR sets up franchise system to provide stability

NASCAR announced a dramatic overhaul of its business model Tuesday, shifting to a franchise-like system that is intended to provide actual value and financial stability to team owners after decades of heavy reliance on sponsors.

The change gets away from the independent contractor model that had been used since NASCAR’s 1948 inception. A car owner was responsible for all the financial obligations to race each week, depending on sponsorship to help foot the bills. When a sponsor pulled its funding, a car owner could go broke and be left with nothing but racing equipment.

Michael Waltrip Racing had nothing but old cars, used equipment and a building to sell when it closed its doors in November.

Now MWR has two of the 36 coveted “charters” and the ability to sell them to the highest bidder. A charter guarantees revenue and a position in what will now be a 40-car Sprint Cup field, down from 43.

MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman, the architect of the Race Team Alliance group that brokered the deal with NASCAR, indicated his two charters will be sold before the Feb. 21 season-opening Daytona 500. One is expected to go to Joe Gibbs Racing for Carl Edwards’ car, the other to Stewart-Haas Racing for Kurt Busch.

Every organization is allowed a maximum of four charters. But in order to get one of the 36, a car had to attempt every race since 2013. Busch and Edwards drive for recently added teams.

Kauffman estimated the current worth of a charter is “single digit millions,” or under $10 million. The charters are good for nine years and there is a performance clause tied to them. Selling or transferring a charter is only allowed once in a five-year period.

HOCKEY

AHL: The Florida Panthers recalled forward Garrett Wilson from the Portland Pirates.

Wilson had seven goals and 13 assists in 37 games with the Pirates this season.

TENNIS

WORLD TENNIS TOURNAMENT: Gilles Muller set up a second-round match with former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic after coming from a set down to beat Andreas Seppi 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-4 at Rotterdam, Netherlands.

UMPIRES: Two tennis umpires have been banned and four others are under investigation for corruption, authorities said.

Kirill Parfenov of Kazakhstan was banned for life in February 2015 for using Facebook to contact another official in an “attempt to manipulate the scoring of matches,” the ITF said in a statement.

Denis Pitner of Croatia was suspended for a year in August after passing on details on the “physical well-being of a player to a coach during a tournament and regularly logging on to a betting account from which bets were placed on tennis matches,” the ITF said.

Four other unidentified officials were suspended while investigations continue into their conduct.

OLYMPICS

2024: Paris ramped up its bid for the 2024 Olympics, securing about $8.9 million in four sponsorship deals and presenting its Eiffel Tower-shaped logo in a ceremony on the Champs Elysees.

SOCCER

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Left back Marcelo is expected to miss Real Madrid’s game against Roma on Feb. 17 in the knockout stage because of a right shoulder injury.

– From staff and news services


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