Racing is a business, no doubt about it. And when that racing is national-level NASCAR competition (i.e. Camping World Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup) that business becomes big business.
Racers and businessmen can sometimes be odd bedfellows. Sometimes the relationship works out, but sometimes it doesn’t. Actually, these days, Rob Kauffman at Michael Waltrip Racing seems to be the rare example of such a relationship working out.
Maybe that’s because Kauffman’s a racer at heart. His business portfolio already included muscle and performance car-type businesses, and since joining up with MWR, he’s raced sports cars, along with fellow-co-owner Michael Waltrip. That relationship is going so well that Waltrip credits Kauffman joining the MWR ownership group as one of the keys to the team’s present success.
For other teams, though, bringing a businessman to the team as a part owner hasn’t worked out so well. Remember Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, turned Richard Petty Motorsports, turned a revamped Richard Petty Motorsports? Okay, so Richard Petty finally got things straightened out in the end, but things were kind of shaky there for awhile.
Want a more recent example of the marriage of racer and businessman gone bad? Just talk to now-former Camping World Truck Series team owner Eddie Sharp. If Sharp could “turn back time” as Cher used to sing, he probably would reconsider the decision to partner with real estate developer Bill Gallaher.
That partnership just became official fewer than five months ago, Aug. 7, 2013, to be exact, and Sharp has already been kicked to the curb, so to speak.
Sharp started Eddie Sharp Racing in 2005 and became a force to be reckoned with in the ARCA Racing Series. After winning an ARCA title in 2009 with Justin Lofton as his driver, Sharp set his sights on the Camping World Truck Series. Sharp, with Lofton, made the move to trucks and soon grew the team with the purchase of assets from Kevin Harvick’s truck team when the Sprint Cup driver decided to close up shop.
Things were going well for ESR. Two drivers, Lofton and Cale Gale, both drove ESR entries into victory lane in Truck Series competition in 2012. But that was before Sharp partnered with Gallaher.
With the announcement of Gallaher becoming part-owner of the team came a name change to Sharp-Gallaher Racing. Now, it seems Gallaher isn’t happy with a piece of the race team pie. I guess he wants the whole pie, as in Gallaher Racing.
According to reports, Gallaher notified Sharp that his services would no longer be needed and all but one employee has been laid off. Speculation has the team reopening as Gallaher as the sole owner.
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