June 27, 2002 - The tough economic times of the past year have not just affected Wall Street; they have brought woes to pit road as well. A lack of sponsorship dollars has forced teams in NASCAR's top three series to shut their doors or cut back...
June 27, 2002 - The tough economic times of the past year have not just affected Wall Street; they have brought woes to pit road as well. A lack of sponsorship dollars has forced teams in NASCAR's top three series to shut their doors or cut back their racing schedules in the best case. Despite the bleak sponsorship outlook, some teams are doing what they have to do to keep racing until times get better.
One such team is the Fred Bickford and Danny Bost-owned DF2 Motorsports, which has competed in 15 of the first 17 NASCAR Busch Series races this season, with little to no sponsorship help. Instead of closing the doors and giving up on racing, Bickford does what he has to do to keep the #94 on the track. "First off, we want people to know we are not running near as well as we are capable of running. We have good equipment here, but many times we cannot afford to spend what it takes to run competitively every week," said Bickford. "Many times we will use two or three less sets of tires than all the other teams use in a weekend and that is enough to save us several thousand dollars. Add that up over an entire season and that makes a difference whether or not you stay in business."
Many teams charter planes or fly commercially to reach the races that are longer than a three or four hour drive, but Bickford and DF2 Motorsports make sacrifices because they cannot afford such luxuries. "We still drive to most of the races. We drove to New Hampshire, which is no short haul," commented Bickford. "We take a coach with us so we can sleep in it instead of spending money on hotel rooms."
The team's best finish of the season came at Bristol Motor Speedway where former Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope piloted the car to a 21st place finish. "We had a good run that weekend, we were on the lead lap until we had to pit under green for a flat tire and feel like we could have had a top 15 car, but we sometimes go to a race knowing we cannot afford to compete. We'll run two cars in events with a short field just to win enough money to pay for one car to race that weekend," said team co-owner Danny Bost.
"At Charlotte, we put a conservative gear in it to see what would happen if we just played it safe and ran our laps. We were doing okay when Jason (White, driver) saw a spin in front of him and tried to check up. He ended up losing the car and hitting the wall. Andy Kirby had a real good car at Dover and we were so hopeful of a top 15, but we ended up getting caught up in a push and shove match between two other cars and got clipped on the way by. Then we crashed in practice at Nashville. Three in a row, that really hurts a team like us because it costs us a ton of time to get that car back to where we can race it again," said Bost.
DF2 Motorsports currently has 3 full-time and 2 part-time employees. All five, plus Fred Bickford and Danny Bost attend each race to put the car through the race weekend. "I score for the team and besides being one of the only men in the scorers tower, I think I'm the only owner up there," Bost said.
Having their car involved in an accident on the track, which happens to every team at one time or another, takes a much greater toll on this team compared to most others. "We crunch the numbers as best we can, so anything like an accident, where we have to farm most of the work out, really sets us back with money and in man-hours," said Bost.
The team will cut corners where they can just to be able to race the following weekend. Whether it mean they have to use fewer sets of tires and give up being competitive, Bickford knows it is much more important to stay on the racing stage than to sit on the sidelines. "It is hard to find sponsorship these days with everything that is going on, but at least being out here every weekend keeps us in front of people. It is hard to be out there, knowing you don't have a chance to win the race. Every racer wants to win every race. However, we know this is what we have to do to work towards one day being able to have sponsorship and work toward the championship-caliber team that I know we are capable of being in the future. I want people to know we are not running like this because we want to, but we have to race practically now so that we have a chance of racing better in the future."