It’s been a tough couple of years for fans of auto-racing. First came the coronavirus pandemic and then the car-pocalypse. The economy took a sharp turn for the worse and the thrill of a trip to the racetrack plummeted.
In early 2021, I, like many other fans, started looking for a way to bring the magic of motor racing back. As the sole owner of a NASCAR team, I knew exactly what I had to do. I decided to close down my team and focus on saving as many legacy races as I could. It was a tough decision and not one I made lightly but I knew it was the right thing to do for my team and my fans.
The Racetrack Was The Heart Of The Business
Atomic Speedway was a staple in the NASCAR ecosystem. Owned by Jack Roush, the track was home to his NASCAR team but was also the place where fans could come together, celebrate, and feel the excitement of competition.
Even before the pandemic, the track had been struggling financially. Roush had to lay off a lot of employees and cut way back on spending on his teams. He became so keen to save the track that he sold a huge chunk of the company for just over $23 million in 2019.
The NASCAR Teams Were On The Brink
After months of looking for alternative venues, in early April 2021 I announced that my team, the Roush Racing team, would be returning to the track that had been my home since 2012. With just 10 days of practice before the first race, I was ready to hit the track and get the season started.
Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t get the team off the ground. We had a decent race car but the entire season was plagued by problems. On top of that, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic added huge pressure to an already financially stressed sport. The track had to close down for nearly a year. It was a tough time for everyone.
The Legacy Rivalry Was One Of The Most Enjoyable
While the track remained closed, I began to look for racing teams that were looking for a driver or a spot on their roster. I decided that it would be best for everyone if we kept the legacy rivalry alive. With just a little over a year until the first race in 2021, I found a team called Bimmer Valley and negotiated a deal that saw them become our primary partner for the season. The partnership saw them supply us with their fantastic cars and support crew for the whole season.
The two teams worked well together and it was awesome to see how quickly we were able to bounce back. The season opener, in Loudon, was a great success and we were able to close out the season on a high note. The whole experience was great and something I look forward to repeating in 2022.
It’s All About The Fans
It’s been an interesting few years for NASCAR but it’s all good. The sport grew throughout the pandemic and will continue to grow. What grew even more were the fans. People love auto-racing and the love for the sport translated into dollars. Attendance at the track soared during the pandemic and it continues to grow after the track re-opened.
The future of the sport looks incredibly positive. I for one, have no intention of slowing down and am already looking for my next challenge. I want to thank everyone for their support over the last few years and hope we can continue to work together, to make the sport grow even more.