RICHARD CHILDRESS , TEAM OWNER, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING: Part 2 of 2 Q: WILL ENGINEERING DRIVE COSTS UP ENOUGH TO ELIMINATE SOME TEAMS FROM COMPETING IN NASCAR? "It's very, very expensive. But, this is where you have to have ...
RICHARD CHILDRESS , TEAM OWNER, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:
Part 2 of 2
Q: WILL ENGINEERING DRIVE COSTS UP ENOUGH TO ELIMINATE SOME TEAMS FROM COMPETING IN NASCAR?
"It's very, very expensive. But, this is where you have to have great sponsorship like Goodwrench, AOL, Cingular - all the companies that we supporting us. We have 30-some sponsors. It takes a lot today to run an operation and it can get expensive. It just about will put you out of business if you can't stay on the cutting edge and you can't bring the income in it takes to run these race teams today. It's very, very expensive. But, to be competitive you have to have it."
Q: DO YOU EVER SEE REVENUE SHARING ENTERING THIS SPORT TO FIGHT THAT?
"If you would see that and I could see it happening way down the road possibly through some licensing agreements that are out there today - I could see where they could do some revenue sharing. As far as controlling what each team (spends) - each team is an independent contractor. We're responsible for the income and our expenses, so I don't think that we'll ever do that. But, if they did, they would probably do it through some type of licensing conglomerate, kind of like the NFL does."
Q: WHAT ARE THE SIGNS THAT ARE GOING TO SHOW YOU THAT YOUR TEAMS ARE PROGRESSING?
"At the end of the day when they print out the race results, that is going to show your progress. But, the progress we can see internally is the working of this big machine we have - how we've got to make this five-car team, with our two Busch teams - how we've got to make it work and flow. That's where we will see the success of it."
Q: WITH TALLADEGA NEXT WEEK, WAS YESTERDAY'S ACTION AGAINST THE '20' CAR A WARNING BELL TO NOT BRING ILLEGAL STUFF TO THE TRACK?
"That's a good one. I hadn't thought about that. I'd better talk to my guys Monday about that. It could be. They were really tight. It's the toughest Daytona we had ever been through on inspection. We went there for the test and our cars were pretty well - we thought - in the box. But, they were out of the box. We had to go back home and rebuild all six of our Winston Cup cars that we went down there and tested with. They told us, 'If you bring this car, you're going to load it up and take it home,' so we had fair warning before the test. When we down there (for the race), it was a tough inspection. But, we were one of the few that got through the first day."
Q: HAVE YOU SURVEYED YOUR TEAM ABOUT THE USE OF EPHEDRA?
"We've got a full-time trainer-nutritionist that works in our gym, handles all of our pit stops. They all take different things, but as far I know, they don't (take ephedra). We haven't set down and said, 'No, you can't use it or yes you can use it.' We set guidelines when we set up our workout program and that's not in it."
Q: WHERE ARE THE ENGINEERS COMING FROM?
"Different places. Today there are a lot of engineers out there that you can hire. It depends on what area you want to hire an engineer in. There are other areas that you can use engineering other than bringing them from motorsports, which we do have - metallurgists. But, the thing - where we get ours, especially if you're going to use them in the racing world - we try to get them there. We've got some young engineers that we brought up from N.C. State and different colleges."
Q: HOW DO SOME OF THE SHORT-TERM CHANGES AFFECT YOUR FIVE-YEAR PLAN?
"Part of the long-term plan is to be where we want to be in five years. That's to have all three cars being very competitive. Being competitive is running in the top 10 and winning your races, running for the championship. I think the changes that we're having to make and we're probably not through making changes throughout the year - whatever it takes to make these race teams competitive - find the right chemistry - RCR is going to do it. I don't like changes, but it's part of life. To be successful, you have to change. You can't stay. If something isn't working you've got to make a change."
Q: HOW LONG CAN YOU WAIT ON YOUR OTHER TWO TEAMS BEFORE YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO MAKE CHANGES?
"I'd say we'll get through Charlotte and see where we're at We were shooting for Charlotte.
"The thing that we're seeing is that crew chiefs have got so much more responsibility today than they had three years ago or four years ago. When we ran Dale, Bobby Hutchens was the team manager-engineer, then we had a crew chief and then I was kind of the next guy up there. Today we're probably going to end up with a team manager, an engineer and a crew chief for each car at the racetrack. I can see it going there. It's not the direction I want to see, but I think to stay competitive and do what we're going to have to do, you'll probably see more and more of that."
Q: COULD YOU HAVE SEEN 10 OR 15 YEARS AGO THE ROLE ENGINEERS PLAY TODAY?
"Not at all. Today, the engineer plays such a major role in setting the car up. His job actually starts back at the shop on Monday morning doing the post-race and working with the crew chiefs. With all this new simulation stuff that we have today to work with, they can pretty well run a car before they come to the racetrack and that is the goal. And, no, I never would have dreamed the first time I went to a 7-post machine up in Detroit - I'd have never dreamed that we would have owned one ourselves."
Q: WITH ALL THE PERSONNEL ADDITIONS PER TEAM, IS IT REALLY MORE EFFICIENT TO MAKE MULTIPLE TEAMS?
"That's the reason for the third team. It gives you a better chance to divide at the end of the day. At the end of the day, when you've got a piece of equipment that is $2 million sitting there, you can divide that out by three or out by five or whatever. It gives you the opportunity to build more resources. It's more expensive. But, I think with a lot of the things that NASCAR did over the past few years to make sure that we're on a level playing field, competitive, with all the templates and all the new stuff we have to do - it's driven us to have to do more in that area."
Q: WITH THAT SAID, IS IT SURPRISING TO SEE A SINGLE-CAR TEAM, LIKE RICKY CRAVEN'S, WIN A RACE?
"Not surprising. Cal Wells was probably one of the guys that brought a lot of this engineering, team manager, crew chief type concept. I think they've really focused. It's a lot tougher to do it today with a single-car team. Hats off - those guys did a great job. Sometimes I wish I had one - several times. But, in today's environment it's going to be tough to do it and grow. You've got to have growth. Where a single-car team may be three years from now may be a different situation. Today if you stop and count how many owners that are in NASCAR when that field starts Sunday and then think five years from now how many owners are going to be out there. You may only have 12 or 15 owners. It wouldn't take but 15 owners sitting around a table where it used to be 43 or 45 or 50 of us, when we would sit. But today, if five years I could see it where there would maybe be only 12 to 15 owners in this sport."
Q: IF YOU WERE LOOKING TO COME INTO THE SPORT TODAY, WOULD YOU COME IN AND WHERE ARE NEW OWNERS GOING TO COME FROM?
"First of all, I couldn't get in the sport like I got in it then.
"I got in it at probably a prime time - a young guy having fun, not really realizing what I was doing and built a race team. I knew what I wanted to do, but at that point, the reason I got out of the car - I wasn't ready to get out of the car. But, I saw the Harry Raniers, the Rod Osterlunds - this group of people coming with money - and I could see where a single guy like myself who could run in the top five or top 10 - I was being pushed back. I could see the trend back in the '70s when these guys started coming. Jim Stacy, he tried the five-car team there at one team. He was buying all the stuff up. I saw that coming back then and I knew then that if I wanted to stay in the sport I had to do something besides try to drive and own the cars.
"The new owners - I think you'll see more very, very wealthy people if they come in, or people like myself who is in the sport being able to start anther race team or build another race team. I don't see that many new owners coming. I see within - the owners we have today - possibly building more race teams."