After months of speculation, rumors, and false positives, the mystery surrounding the ownership of NASCAR team Speedway Motors finally has been solved. The team—which competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series—was bought by Eldon Jayne, a business tycoon who also owns Jayne Motorcycles. Mr. Jayne has a long history of supporting NASCAR, having previously owned the Iowa Speedway, and today he continues his passion for racing by teaming up with Richard Childress, the founder of the legendary RCR (Richard Childress Racing) team, to bring a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship to his drivers and fans.
How did we get here?
New Owners, New Name
In 2016, Todd Bishop—a former racer who owns a boutique hotel in North Carolina—purchased the dormant NASCAR team for $2.85 million. Bishop brought the team through a rigorous vetting process that included, but was not limited to, checking financials, legal docs, and doing background research on the owners of previous teams the team had been affiliated with in the past (it started with Richard Petty’s ‘69 team and continued through the years with the Wood brothers’ and Cary Huntington’s teams). He also looked for any racist or inappropriate comments made by any of the team’s former employees or contractors.
A year later, Todd Bishop decided that he wanted to give the team a fresh start, so he sold it to Eldon Jayne.
Eldon Jayne is a self-made auto entrepreneur who founded, and still owns, multiple car dealerships and salvage yards around the nation. He also co-founded Real Racing Cyclers with Scott Riggs, a manufacturer of high-quality electric bicycles and car accessories. As an enthusiast of both NASCAR and electric bikes, Jayne was drawn to the dormant Speedway Motors team and its storied history of competition and excellence.
It should come as no surprise that a man of Jayne’s means would invest in a high-end NASCAR team. He is known to have extensive automotive collections, which include over 20 cars and over 30 bicycles. One of his vintage race cars is on static display in the lobby of his flagship dealership, Jayne Motorcycles in Huntersville, North Carolina. (The dealership’s website) In 2017, he purchased the dormant NASCAR team for $2.85 million.
The new owners of Speedway Motors have big plans for the franchise. In an interview with Motorsport.com, Richard Childress—the founder of RCR and a legendary figure in the sport—said, “We are thrilled to be associated with a team as prestigious as Speedway Motors. Our group has a long history of supporting motorsports, and this is yet another exciting project for us. In partnership with Eldon Jayne, we are confident that we can bring back to life a flagship NASCAR team that fans and competitors will be proud to associate with.” Childress is known for being the first to support women in motorsports when he hired Janet Guthrie in 1969, and for giving her the nickname “Suzi-Q.”
Guthrie was a force to be reckoned with in the pits, and she went on to become the first American woman to win a motorcycle championship. She died in 2012, but her legacy lives on through the organizations she founded and the cars she drove. (Guthrie had a special connection to the Harley-Davidson brand, as her father was the company’s general manager at the time she competed.)
Both Richard Childress and Eldon Jayne are confident that the new ownership and direction of the team will inspire more “yes” than “no” voters in the coming months. They plan to field a high-quality car that can contend for wins on a regular basis, and they want to give back to the community with both on-track and off-track commitments.
Sober Team, Safety-Minded
When it comes to NASCAR, teams often have connections to alcohol or drug abuse. The most recent case in point is BizEaze, the wheeling and dealing business owned by former NASCAR driver Mike McDowell. (See the New York Times article from August 25, 2018, “Former NASCAR Driver Mike McDowell Sells Businesses To Insiders” for more information.) In the 1980s, McDowell’s teams were often referred to as “sober squads,” as much of the competition was affected by drugs and alcohol. (In the 2010s, he is best known for establishing the Mike McDowell Fellowships at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which give under-represented students the opportunity to study business in a world-class environment.)
The new owners of Speedway Motors are committed to putting an end to this sort of “sport”—which is what they call it when a driver is impaired by alcohol or drugs—and they plan to follow NASCAR’s lead in establishing a drug and alcohol-free program.
On the racetrack, the team will be represented by a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, sponsored by Tapjoy (a software company that provides tools and services that make it easier for consumers to earn, keep, and use their money on products they love). Off the track, the team will be running a program that promotes health, education, and safety. According to the team’s website, “We believe that everyone has a role to play in making our world a better place. That’s why we’re committed to giving back to the community with both on-track and off-track commitments. As part of our outreach effort in the community, we plan to establish a substance abuse rehabilitation facility that will be open to NASCAR fans and the general public alike. Our hope is that anyone who steps through our doors will leave feeling healthier and safer than when they came in.”
In 2018 and 2019, Speedweeks in Atlanta are dedicated to drug testing—and, for the first time ever, random tests will be made during races. Previously, the tests had only been done at the end of the season, after NASCAR officials scrutinized all of the results. (The new policy was put in place in response to the 2018 Boston Marathon bombings and the aftermath of the attack on the annual race in which the victims were runners and spectators as well as elite marathoners.)
New Equipment, New Colors
The new owners of Speedway Motors bought the team with the intention of getting it up and running as soon as possible. This meant upgrading the equipment and the color scheme. (One of the team’s former employees, who chose to remain anonymous, told Motorsport.com, “We are going to have to change a lot because all of the equipment is obsolete. We are going to have to get the whole thing re-painted. The most important thing is the license plate. We have to have something that stands out, that people know immediately what team they are looking at.”)
According to Richard Childress, this is an exciting time for the NASCAR community. “For nearly 40 years, we had to make do with whatever equipment was available to us. There are many standout teams that did an excellent job with what they had, but we have now arrived at a point where we can expect more. The new equipment and the new cars will only make a difference in the amount of ‘yes’ votes we get on the track.”
In an effort to make his point about the voting “yes,” Jayne added, “The cars and the equipment are the easy part. It’s about the heart and the passion that you put into it. If you believe in something, even if it’s a pipe dream, you can make it happen. You just have to give it your all.”
This sentiment was echoed by Sheldon Brown, who finished second in the Truck Series championship in 1999 with Jayne’s team, the Desperados. He told Motorsport.com, “It’s going to be fun to see what Eldon and Richard come up with. The cars are going to be beautiful, and it’s going to be exciting to see how much support they can get from sponsors.”
After months of speculation and rumors, it’s great to see that the mystery surrounding the ownership of NASCAR team Speedway Motors has been solved. The team—which competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series—was bought by Eldon Jayne, a self-made tycoon who also owns multiple car dealerships and salvage yards around the nation. Mr. Jayne has a long history of supporting NASCAR, having previously owned the Iowa Speedway, and his passion for racing is visible in the quality of the cars and equipment he has at his disposal. (The dealership’s website) With the help of Richard Childress—the founder of RCR (Richard Childress Racing) and a legendary figure in the sport—Mr. Jayne plans to bring a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship to his drivers and fans, and to establish a drug and alcohol-free program on the racetrack and in the community.