By Matteo Marcheschi
BKR’s recent closure seemed to shock many people, but it really shouldn’t. The cost to run a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team is astonishing, even with sponsors and factory support. At the end of this season, the Truck Series will have lost at least four trucks out of its ideal 32-truck field, after Red Horse Racing pulled its two trucks from the series because of sponsorship issues. Issues was an understatement for the team, which had run for several years entirely sponsorship-free. The team’s lead driver, Timothy Peters, was on a streak of eight consecutive top-10 finishes in the standings, all with Red Horse. GMS, a four-truck team, has also been rumored to be leaving the Series, favoring a move to the Cup Series. That could mean the Truck Series could be down by eight trucks entering the 2018 season.
Brad Keselowski, owner of BKR, decided to shut his own team down earlier this month, citing personal and financial reasons. Keselowski has been open about the financials of his team, saying in a June 2017 interview with NBC Sports that his team is losing $1 million every season, citing a cost of $4.5 million to run the team. Keselowski’s team has earned 69 top-5 finishes since 2014, including five wins. It’s hard to imagine a team of that caliber losing money, let alone losing enough to warrant the team’s shutdown.
Unfortunately, even Kyle Busch, the Truck Series’ most successful team owner, is paying some cash out of pocket to fund his team, according to the same NBC Sports interview, despite having Toyota factory support. Since starting KBM in 2010, Busch has 63 wins and 238 top-10 finishes in 393 starts. Using this fact, it can be assumed that every Truck Series team owner is losing money in running their operation, despite any success they might have.
This is obviously a massive problem. One solution, though, is to run at smaller tracks. Short tracks mean that less money must be spent on aerodynamics and other equipment due to lower speeds, allowing teams to be more flexible financially. This would also cater to the youthful drivers in the Truck Series, many of whom come from a short-track background.
Spec engines and composite bodies would also save teams tremendous amounts of money on engine development and body fabrication. Hanging a body, or preparing it for use before a race, can sometimes equal the purse for winning a race.
While it’s difficult to truly quantify the amount teams would save, it seems like a no-brainer for NASCAR to provide spec engines and composite bodies, and maybe other parts as well. Moving to more short tracks, which are generally more driver-dependant, rather than car (or truck)- dependant, also seems like a smart move.
After all, isn’t the goal of the Truck Series’ to find and develop the best drivers, not the best trucks themselves?