For the RTA, it's full steam ahead

Rob Kauffman, head of the Race Team Alliance, discusses the "F" word, testing and the newly announced Drivers' Council.

For the RTA, it's full steam ahead
Robert Kauffman and Clint Bowyer
Robert Kauffman
Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota with Michael Waltrip
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Rick Hendrick
Chip Ganassi, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
Roger Penske
JD Gibbs, Joe Gibbs and Kyle Busch
Championship contenders press conference: team owner Richard Childress
Richard Petty
Gene Haas and Tony Stewart
Jack Roush
Denny Hamlin speaks onstage after winning the Coors Light Pole Award at the NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon

Rob Kauffman has a lot on his plate these days. 

In addition to his responsibilities as majority owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, nearly one year ago Kauffman was introduced as Chairman of the Race Team Alliance.

On Sunday, Kauffman, 51, spoke with motorsport.com regarding the possibility of franchising, testing and the health of the sport from the RTA's perspective. 

Initially, Kauffman downplayed the possibility of equity and revenue sharing among the teams. But in the last 11 months, the car enthusiast and gentleman racer has since warmed to the idea.

“I think the conversation regarding some long-term equity program for the teams — everybody is on board with the general concept,” Kauffman said. “Of course the details will take some time to work out, but conceptually I think it’s something that everyone agrees makes sense. So it’s good progress, good dialogue. 

“Like a lot of other sports, everyone has to work together to make it better. The goal is popularity and to draw more fans, to make better racing and promote better storylines.  We’re all in it together. 

“I can’t really comment specifically on where things are but getting things organized as quickly as you can is always in everyone’s best interest. It’s a fast moving sport but the sport needs to get things right.”

Changing course

Kauffman has noticed a shift within NASCAR to offer continued open dialogue with the teams.

When NASCAR Chairman Brian France was asked at the beginning of the season if franchising was in the sport’s future he replied, “They’re on their own timeline with all that, and we’re doing what we normally do, which is get input from everybody so we can make really good decisions. That’s the way it was and that’s the way it will be.”

There’s been plenty of discussions as to how NASCAR teams would be valued once the system was put in a place. Would a four-car operation such as Hendrick Motorsports be on the same footing as a three-car team such as Roush Fenway Racing? Or would another three-car team such as Richard Childress Racing be valued at the same level as a BK Racing? If a medallion system was devised what would be the criteria for distribution?

Inevitably, NASCAR would have to approve whatever program the RTA devised. But certainly, France’s opinion has changed considerably from 2009 when he said, "A franchise system would likely create a system that values a franchise more than the need to perform each week at the racetrack. This of course runs counter to everything NASCAR is based upon.”

On the right track

NASCAR has never worked as closely with the teams as it has of late. The challenge to develop a race package that creates closer, more competitive racing has been a hot topic for the RTA as well who, like the drivers, are working to improve the on track product.

“We’ve been working with NASCAR on this whole rules package test for Kentucky,” Kauffman added. “We’ve been trying to make sure that that’s organized and all the teams are up to speed with what’s going on and what the goals are and help coordinate stuff.” 

Formation of Driver Council

Not long after the RTA was announced last July, talk of a drivers’ council began. Although the drivers council just surfaced publicly earlier this month at Dover, there has been a group effort behind the scenes between the competitors and NASCAR.

“I think there is good coordination between the teams and the drivers in general,” Kauffman said. “There are a lot of individual personalities involved which always makes it fun, but at the end of the day the drivers and the teams are generally on the same wavelength, right?. 

“Everyone wants the same thing. Good racing and a good show for the fans. Everyone is open-minded about it. If you wanted to talk about, ‘how do you change the show?’, I think talking to the drivers makes a lot of sense because they’re the guys and gals doing it. What’s good is over the past year there’s been a whole lot more communication. That’s the best way to solve issues is with better communication. 

“Brent Dewar (NASCAR COO) and Steve O’Donnell (NASCAR EVP) and all the folks at NASCAR have been great and making a big effort to be more communicative with everybody whether it’s the people at Toyota, Ford or Chevy or our partners — it’s been good.”

shares
comments
Ragan says Truex 'did me wrong,' blames him for wreck

Previous article

Ragan says Truex 'did me wrong,' blames him for wreck

Next article

NASCAR is considering additional road courses for Sprint Cup

NASCAR is considering additional road courses for Sprint Cup
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021