Yarborough shifts gears to remain afloat By Dave Rodman CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 30, 1998) Cale Yarborough, who has struggled for more than 10 years to transfer some of his scintillating success as a NASCAR Winston Cup driver to his role as...
Yarborough shifts gears to remain afloat By Dave Rodman
CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 30, 1998) Cale Yarborough, who has struggled for more than 10 years to transfer some of his scintillating success as a NASCAR Winston Cup driver to his role as car owner, in the space of less than 10 days went from the depths of despair to seeking a glimmer of hope of maintaining his 41-year involvement in NASCAR Winston Cup racing as he shut the doors of his team only to re-open the operation with a skeleton crew. Cale Yarborough Motorsports currently is operating with nine employees -- down from the 27 who were on the payroll on Nov. 20 when the initial decision was made to shutter the new shop that the team moved into in August 1997.
Yarborough's drastic move was made when 1998 sponsor Thorn Apple Valley apparently suffered a downturn in its business and was forced to discontinue its sponsorship. Negotiations to replace the company as sponsor failed to turn up a replacement.
"We thought we were pretty close to a sponsorship, but when the last one fell through I kind of lost heart," said Yarborough, an astute businessman who knows running a NASCAR Winston Cup team without major backing is a good way to make a small fortune -- out of a bigger one. "These things are awful expensive to operate and it's (signing a sponsor) the only way we'll be able to keep going."
At the time of the initial decision, Yarborough, 58, said it was "the biggest disappointment in my whole career to tell those guys we were going to shut down."
But two days later, after a team meeting, the facility was back in operation with crew chief Mike McSwain working in the fabrication shop with one other employee and chief engine builder Tony Santanicola supervising four other workers in the engine room. General Manager Marlene Emery was answering the phone, in addition to other duties.
"I never did want to give it up, not only for me but for my crew," Yarborough said. "I think this is the best bunch in Winston Cup racing. Not only are they dedicated racers but they are close friends."
So, the team continues to toil on. Their work may only be in preparation for a sale of all the team's rolling stock and engines, if sponsorship cannot be found.
"We hope to know something in a week or so," Yarborough said of additional sponsorship possibilities that are in the works. "Without a sponsor, there is a zero percentage chance that we'll be in Daytona for Speedweeks. With it, we'll be there for sure."
Yarborough has joined dubiously select company with his current status. NASCAR Winston Cup teams fielded by the Stavola brothers and Felix Sabates have also closed during this off-season, possibly pending sponsorship, possibly for good. With a pool of unattached drivers available, Yarborough is confident he will have a capable candidate if he is able to revive his operation.
"There are drivers available," he said. "If we can get a sponsor and keep it going, we'll have a good race driver for Daytona."
Yarborough, who is fifth on the all-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series career victories list with 83, has only one win in 337 starts as an owner. His team's other numbers, compiled since the team's inception in 1987, reflect a similar statistical bent. In 559 starts as a driver he scored 70 pole positions and had 251 top-five finishes. He also won three straight NASCAR Winston Cup championships from 1976-78. His race team has three Bud Pole Awards and 13 top-five finishes.
Source: NASCAR Online