RICHARD CHILDRESS, OWNER OF RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (RCR) spoke with media following press announcement to unveil the No. 33 USO/CHEER Chevrolet that will be driven by Clint Bowyer at the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Phoenix. The car is part of a partnership between Cheerios and the USO to help support military families by sending "Cheer" postcards from the front of specially marked packages of Cheerios cereal found in stores October through November, 2011.
WHAT ATTRACTS THE SPONSORS? “We at RCR do it a little different. We try to sell our whole company and corporation and the driver is a huge part of it because he plays a large role in the marketing of the product but we also try to sell RCR and make sure that we get the return on the investment for all the companies that we’re associated with. At the end of the day I work for every one of these companies and I want to make sure I do a good job to get the return on their investment.”
ARE THEY LOOKING FOR GUYS THAT ARE MARKETABLE OR ARE THEY LOOKING FOR TEAMS THAT ARE GOING TO BE UP FORM AND CONTENDING FOR CHAMPIONSHIPS AND RACE WINS, WHAT ARE THEY MOST INTERESTED IN? “In today’s world the sponsors are looking a lot of B to B, they’re looking for a guy that is a good spokesman; they are looking for a team that has a good spokesman with it so it’s been a really good relationship with RCR and all of our sponsors to be able to move forward. With General Mills like this program that we are doing right here, it’s a huge deal to be able to put it out and be able to work with them.”
DO YOU SEE THE BUSINESS MODEL CHANGING FOR NASCAR, WITH SOME OF THE LAYOFFS AND SOME OF THE TEAMS DOWNSIZING, DO YOU SEE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL CANGING? “I think everybody’s business model changed a couple of years ago and we’re all having to adjust to it but at RCR we’ve been very fortunate, we’ve been able to resign sponsors, be able to have really good corporate interest. We’ve got a lot of new companies that are looking at us that hopefully in the near future will be making some announcements.
“So things are looking pretty good for RCR and I think it’s looking good for the sport as well. There’s a lot of interest, TV rating has been up; we’re getting the seats back in the stands so really happy with what I see with the sport today.”
DO YOU SEE COSTS GOING DOWN, WITH DRIVERS SALARIES START COMING DOWN AND NOW THAT THE LOOKS OF THE SOME OF THE COST THAT IT WILL BE MORE INEXPENSIVE? “Well we all have to adjust to the model. It’s just a matter if you’ve got x dollars to race with you have to figure out how to race with it and NASCAR understands the challenges that’s out there today for the teams and they’re going to do what they can to make their adjustments as well. It’s no different than everybody right here that I’m looking at. I’m sure the companies that you work for say well you come in a day later and you don’t show up until then and you stay in this hotel, so all of us have had to make adjustments to the new economic environment.”
WE HEARD CLINT BOWYER’S VERSION LAST WEEK OF WHY HE WASN’T ABLE TO CONTINUE WITH RCR. HE SAID YOU EVEN OPENED UP THE FINANCIAL BOOKS TO HIM. WHY DO YOU THINK IT WAS YOU WEREN’T ABLE TO WORK IT OUT TOGETHER?
“It was just we knew what our financial model was and Clint knew where he needed to be and we just couldn’t ever come together to make it work. We had the car completely sponsored but it just didn’t really work out and I’m very sad that it didn’t because I really like Clint. He’s going to be a great driver. Never say never; hopefully he will be back some day at RCR.”
DO YOU ENVISION THE NO. 33 CUP CAR ON THE TRACK NEXT YEAR, OR DO YOU SEE YOUR PROGRAM NOW AS THREE CUP CARS? “Right now we’re looking at three Cup cars with an occasional Cup race. Who knows what may come up between now and then? I’ve had offers to race people and race drivers and had another full sponsorship with a driver; I just want to make sure it’s the right move when we make it. So we’re still as of right now, we’re three Cup teams.”
SO IS YOUR MAIN PRIORITY RIGHT NOW SELLING SPONSORSHIP FOR AUSTIN’S NATIONWIDE RIDE AND TY’S TRUCK RIDE FOR NEXT YEAR? “We’re down the road pretty good with all of that. Like I said earlier we feel pretty good about where RCR is in the future with the sponsors we have over the next two or three years. Couldn’t be happier with a lot of things on the front for RCR sponsorship wise, employee wise and the direction that we are going.”
JUST TO CLAIRFY, YOU MIGHT RUN A FOURTH CAR PART TIME NEXT YEAR IN CUP OR NOT? “I’m sure if we don’t have a team we may stick Austin in another car one or two times. We’ve got a couple of other people that said hey we want to run. If we see it’s the right opportunity for a change that we can test something or look at a driver or something we may do that.”
YOU TALK ABOUT THE BUSINESS MODEL, IF PEOPLE COULD BRING YOU A ONE OR TWO-RACE DEAL YOU COULD INSERT PEOPLE INTO THAT CAR AND HAVE A NUMBER OF SPONSORS AND HAVE A DIFFERENT BUSINESS MODEL. “Yeah, but that’s not really what we want to do. You can’t be competitive like that. I’d rather have three teams that you can be competitive with and occasionally pick up a race or two along the way and if you’ve got something you want to try you do it.”
WERE YOU SURPRISED AT ALL WITH THEJOE GIBBS RACING ANNOUNCEMENT, THE KIND OF DYNAMICS WITH THAT WITH THE HOME DEPOT BACKING DOWN ON SOME OF THE RACES THEY’RE GOING TO HAVE AND 12 RACES GOING TO DOLLAR GENERAL? “I didn’t realize that but that’s the model about all these companies are going to today. They still think it’s a great place to be or they wouldn’t come back. I think that’s going to be the model. You’re going to have to be able to sell off with one or two maybe three sponsors. It makes it a little tougher adjusting the races because everybody would want Daytona or everybody wants Indianapolis but if you’re fortunate and have great companies that will work with you to pick those race tracks it works really good.”
IS IT SAFE TO SAY WITH THE ABSORBTION OF KEVIN HARVICK YOU WON’T HAVE TO LAY OFF STAFF EVEN IF YOU GO TO THREE CUP CARS? “We’re hoping to add a few more people. We’ve got a couple of other good programs working. The number we’re coming up with now is just a few more employees than we have today.”
FUEL INJECTION AND THE CHANGE IN BODIES IN 2013, ARE YOU GOING TO NEED EXTRA STAFF NEXT YEAR JUST BECAUSE OF THOSE THINGS? “I think it’s going to take a different engine tuner. You’ve got to be very up on computers. There’s a lot of stuff that you’ve got to do with computers on fuel injection. The aerodynamics is going to be huge working into our 2013 car. We’re working on it probably June of next year getting prepared. The cost is going to be there.”
COULD YOU CLARIFY SOMETHING PLEASE, LATE IN THE RACE LAST WEEK IN KANSAS CLINT WAS RACING KEVIN SIDE-BY-SIDE, YOU GOT ON CLINT’S RADIO AND SAID GO TO CHANNEL TWO, DID YOU TELL CLINT OF THE SITUATION OR WHY WOULDN’T YOU BECAUSE WHETHER ITS HIM OR ANY OTHER DRIVER BECAUSE YOU’VE GOT ONE GUY COMPETING FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP WE’RE STARTING TO SEE WHAT THE VALUE OF ONE POSITION OR ONE POINT IS, IF YOU DIDN’T DO IT WHY DIDN’T YOU DO IT? “I was talking to Shane (Wilson). I asked Shane to go to channel two. I wanted to talk to him about something else. Just use your own instinct on that and answer it yourself.”
MY INSTINCT WOULD SAY YES, I WOULD TELL MY DRIVER …. “I’m not going to tell them what to do. These guys are smart. They all understand. Hendrick’s guys all understand, Roush guys understands, everybody understands; you’re not going to do nothing that’s not legal or not right but you’re going to race hard for your company.”
TALK ABOUT THE CHEERS POST CARDS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THAT TO YOU “Let me tell you. I’m going to stand on my soap box for a minute about America. We need to do more of this for our troops. We need to do more in our schools to teach our children about America, the flags, patriotism, and how and why we can be where we are today. In today’s schools; I don’t see many of you here that’s old enough, but when I went to school, there was an American flag in the corner of the classroom. Every morning you stood up and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. I think we’ve got to get back and this is a good step to go out and show the troops and show the families how much they are appreciated. It kind of irritates me sometimes that we don’t stand up more for our troops and we don’t stand up more for the families that sacrificed so much. And if a family has a loved one overseas and they receive a card for any one of ya’ll, it’s going to brighten their day. It’s going to be a cheer; and that’s what this program is all about.
CLINT BOWYER ADDED TO THE COMMENT: “I don’t have a soapbox (laughter). But that was exactly spot-on. We are proud of this. I think it’s very important to be able to give back to the troops and help them out. They’re over there busting their butts so we can do what we love to do in this country. Companies like Cheerios, just doing something little like this, really makes a big difference in people’s lives. So I’m very proud to be a part of it and to represent it.”