Blog Entry

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

Posted on: June 21, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 3:45 pm
By Pete Pistone

Kasey Kahne got a jump-start on the 2012 edition of NASCAR “Silly Season” about this time LAST year. 

It’s ironic that the team where Kahne landed as a holding pen before making the move to Hendrick Motorsports next season continued the 2012 proceedings this week. 

The announcement that Red Bull would withdraw its support of NASCAR racing triggered a flurry of speculations and rumors about what the Sprint Cup Series garage would look like next year. 

It was already known that Kahne was gone and holdover Brian Vickers would more than likely have to find a new address for 2012 before word leaked that the energy drink giant had decided it would no longer support an organization within NASCAR’s top division. 

After nearly five years of trying, all TRB has to show for its effort is a win with Vickers at Michigan in 2009 and a Chase berth that same season. 

A trail of failures and a merry-go-round of drivers including A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed and Casey Mears among others will be the legacy of the organization. 

Certainly team General manager Jay Frye is a respected figure in the NASCAR world and the organization’s lack of success has not been for lack of trying. However for a company like Red Bull who expects to be the kingpin in any sport the company chooses to participate, stumbling around since 2007 finally became unbearable. 

Red Bull’s wild success in Formula One with superstar Sebastien Vettel definitely didn’t help the NASCAR’s team cause. While Vettel is winning races on a regular basis while competing for championships on the F-1 world stage a Top 10 finish Sprint Cup Series finish has been reason to celebrate. 

Frye plans to try and keep the team’s infrastructure intact and pursue investors to pump the much-needed finances into the operation that will vanish once Red Bull ceases its involvement at season’s end. 

That won’t be an easy task. 

Frye can look no further than to Richard Petty for advice after “the King” found himself in a similar situation last year when the George Gillett House of cards finally collapsed around Richard Petty Motorsports. 

After a long and arduous journey, Petty was able to land the financial support of new investment blood in the form of Medallion Financial and DGB Investments.

But the transition did not come without casualties. RPM’s four-car operation was cut in half and hundreds of people lost their jobs including driver Elliott Sadler, who was forced to retool his career from the Sprint Cup Series to the Nationwide Series this season. 

Frye understands the nature of his quest and what he’ll face just trying to maintain the very existence of the operation. 

"We have talked to some people who have great enthusiasm about what we're doing," Frye said on a media conference call held Tuesday. "We believe we can put something together rather quickly in 30 to 45 days. But the process has just started. We had a lot of inquires yesterday. The goal is to keep the Red Bull team continuing on the path it's on." 

Should Frye be able to pull off the hunt for new money and keep the team’s doors open, he’ll next have the challenge of finding sponsors for the two-car stable. Red Bull’s involvement was the unique combination of a company that both owned and sponsored the team. 

Other more successful Sprint Cup Series teams are finding it difficult to attract the necessary sponsors to stay on track competitively. Roush Fenway Racing and even Hendrick Motorsports continue to look for dollars and have multiple race wins and championships in their portfolios to dangle in front of prospective sponsors. 

Unfortunately at this point Frye does not have that luxury and in fact is missing a key component in the sale pitch – drivers. 

There was speculation only a few weeks ago that free agent to be Clint Bowyer was ready to jump ship at Richard Childress Racing and in discussions to potentially join Red Bull. 

Obviously this week’s turn of events will end that talk and over the weekend in Michigan team owner Childress expressed confidence Bowyer and sponsor General Mills would return to his fold next season. 

Other high profile names like Juan Pablo Montoya or Mark Martin would come at a cost even a restructured TRB team probably couldn’t afford. And the biggest fish in the free agent pond - Carl Edwards - is in the middle of a bidding war between current employer Roush and Joe Gibbs Racing so the likelihood of landing him is remote at best. 

That leaves one of two options for the team if its able to continue; hiring a middle-tiered veteran or trying a more unseasoned young driver along the lines of current truck series phenom (and Red Bull-sponsored) Cole Whitt. 

But first things first. Frye and company have to pull a financial rabbit out of their hat to keep things afloat. 

It will be a challenge to be sure and one that might make landing sponsors and drivers easy by comparison.


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Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: June 24, 2011 4:00 pm

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

Money controls and talks in all forms of racing,even at your local dirt tracks ,the guys with the most money have the best cars and that equals the most wins.

Since: Jun 14, 2008
Posted on: June 24, 2011 8:08 am

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

Can this really be a money issue? Lack of performance on the track is the only reason for Red Bull to leave NASCAR, just like Toyota's failure in F! caused them to leave there. With their F1 team setting the bar world wide, the lack of success has to be hitting Red Bull hard. Just participating in F! takes more dollars than running a NASCAR team, and the popularity outside of the US is incredible. Now, their NASCAR lack of success probably does come down to driver choice, but even Kasey Kahne has not been much of a bright spot, so if their organization is good and trying hard, the lack of success is drivers?? Or is it just that Red Bull like so many mid size teams just does not want to or can not spend the $$$ that Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs and Childress are willing to put up in this sport, they are almost half the field, not counting the 5-8 start and parkers.

Since: Oct 26, 2008
Posted on: June 23, 2011 5:04 pm

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

You don't know anything about NASCAR then buckeye. Like any sport, once you learn the strategy and the players (drivers) it becomes interesting. But you've already made your pea brain up, so I won't try to change it. NASCAR IS VERY interesting to what, except for the road races. I hate those.

Since: Jan 13, 2007
Posted on: June 22, 2011 5:01 pm

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

Red Bull is no different than the average Joe....I think most people are getting  tired of this boring over hyped racing,it's evident by looking in the stands at these races they losing popularity at a rapid rate.The last two weekend i have watched Nascar races because I've been stuck in the house because of bad weather.....there is nobody that can tell me these races were exciting...I'd rather watch paint dry if that is all NASCAR has to offer.

Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: June 22, 2011 3:54 pm

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

Must just be where I live now, and have lived before.  Because anywhere I've been the intrest in F1 has essentially been zip.  I honestly can't remember the last time i've had, or even heard someone talking about F1.  I also seem to remember when there was a F1 board here there was maybe 1-5 posts a week on it.  Not trying to bash F1, but I honestly just don't see this intrest in F1 you seem to be talking about.

Maybe if Red Bull can avoid getting big divas like Speed in the future they may have a little bit better chance at being sucessful.  Go back to the little leagues buddy.  You've tried, and failed at each, and every pro league.  Can't bealive he still has teams willing to give him a seat.

Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: June 22, 2011 2:33 pm

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

Witch - the old saying goes Money talks and BS walks - that along with how solid the team actually looks going forward will allow them to court those that can make a difference. Just Thinking!

Since: Sep 22, 2007
Posted on: June 22, 2011 11:13 am

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

Wow!  The mention of F1 on this website.  What happened to the format of including F1 and Indycar as tabs under NASCAR?  With the interest in these sports, why has cbssports snubbed them?  Anyone else wonder about this? 

The problem RBR is facing is that it has to put the money into it to get not only top tier drivers, but top tier mechanics.  There are only so many of them to go around.  Heck, you read about that problem within teams.  Last year it was Gordon and Johnson fighting over their pit crews.  At least it was built up by the media and there was a switch to confirm it.  This is to be expected when only one driver is at the top of the chase.  So, where is RBR going to get its top notch crew from? 

Since: May 18, 2011
Posted on: June 22, 2011 8:39 am

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

How about the Red Bull Chevy as a third SHR car? lol  After all, they have been long rumored to want to move over to chevy's with Hendrick power

Since: Mar 13, 2009
Posted on: June 21, 2011 7:26 pm

Keeping Red Bull team afloat a difficult task

Hey Pete - I'm thinking Red Bull will sponsor a car and driver next year and don't be surprised to see it be with Carl Edwards and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Here is a article that I copied that is from Jay Frye my personal contacts with TRB makes me think the above will happen. Here are Jay's comments:  

The team is "very encouraged about the prospects" of finding new ownership partners and sponsors for the 2012 season and beyond, Jay Frye, Red Bull Racing's general manager, told reporters on a conference call.

"Hopefully over the next 30 to 45 days we're in some sort of talks" that could lead to a transaction, Frye said.

Frye added that "it's possible" Red Bull could remain in the sport in some fashion, although "at this point we're really not sure yet." He also said it was too early to speculate about who the team's drivers might be in 2012.

Red Bull, which generally has struggled since it entered the Cup series in 2007, said Monday it was seeking outside investors after the Associated Press reported that the company planned to leave the sport after this season.

Frye said there was "no specific reason or specific situation" that prompted what he called Red Bull's "business decision" to pull back from NASCAR.

In the meantime, Frye said it was critical that the team continue trying to do well this year to keep itself  attractive to new owners and sponsors.

"The better we do right now, the better everything will be," he said. "We're all paid to perform."


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