THIS WEEK’S STORY LINES
1. IT IS OFFICIAL– PETTY MERGED WITH GEM:(foxsports.com)
2. ALMENDINGER REPLACES SADLER @ GEM:(espn.com)
3. LABONTE LOOKING FOR A NEW RIDE:(motorsports soapbox)
4. WOOD BROS. RUNS A PARTIAL SEASON:(espn.com)
5. EARNHARDT-GANASSI SCRAMBLES FOR SPONSORS:(racing one)
6. HMS SUES DEI AND GINN RACING:(SceneDaily)
7. 2009 TENTATIVE TEAM CHART: (jayski.com)
8. BILL DAVIS SELLS RACE REAMS: (scene daily)
9. EVERNHAM STILL WANTS A ROLE IN NASCAR:(Charlotte Observer)
The 2009 season will witness an end of an era!!! On Christmas Eve Petty Enterprises merged with Gilette-Evernham Motorsports. On the outside that statement really does sound like an earth shaking event, but let us look closer. Earlier in the 2008 season Richard Petty sold a majority interest in his family business of Petty Enterprises to Boston Ventures. That is the same Petty Enterprises that his father, legendary NASCAR icon Lee Petty, started in 1949 in NASCAR’s infancy. The same Petty Enterprises that dominated NASCAR in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. That is the same Petty Enterprises that produced the “Petty Blue” color scheme on the Plymouths of those glory years. Richard Petty and NASCAR have been synonymous for the last 50 years! With this merger, Richard Petty has relinquished his control and influence in Petty Enterprises!! The details have yet to be made public, but one thing is for sure, the number 43 is now in the Gilette-Evernham Motorsports stable!
Speaking of GEM, with this merger just being announce, there are some shake-ups in the driver’s seat there. It appears that, even after signing a two year contract extenion, Elliot Sadler has been ousted from the #19 Dodge. A. J. Almendinger is set to replace Sadler in that ride. It also apears that Reed Sorenson is set to jump into the “newly acquired #43 Dodge GEM Dodge”!!
In another sign of the tough times, Bill Davis has sold his racing operations to Triad Racing Development. The 2009 season for #22 Toyota is still up in the air. The new owners are trying desparately to secure sponsorship in order to put that car on the track for the 2009 season. The economic environment is proving to wreak havoc in the NASCAR garage for the 2009 season. The DEI-Ganassi merger, Earnhardt-Gannasi Racing (EGR) likewise is finding sponsorship a difficult chore. Even though the new team will be running Chevrolets, they are still “beating the bushes” for sponsorship for their four teams!
When this reporter read that Petty Enterprises merged with GEM, it piqued my interest. When the details come out, it will reveal that Richard Petty will no longer have a stake in his NASCAR racing team. It appears that the Petty name will remain, but “The King” will not have an owner’s stake in it!
This reporter remembers his one and only conversation with “The King”. I was about 1987 at the Atlanta airport. I walked into the restroom in the C concourse “to let out some diet coke”. As I was standing there a tall slender gentleman walked up next to me. As I slowly looked to my right I noticed the big hat, sunglasses, and an embroidery of an STP #43 on his hip pocket of his jeans. Holy Moly, it is Richard Petty!!! As we washed our hands I engaged him in some conversation. I first acknowledged how much I loved watching him race! I then asked him a few questions, which he very gracefully answered. I then asked him a question that I heard was true. I asked “The King”, about his philosphy of signing autographs. He told me, “Son I will sign autographs til there is nobody left that wants one. I learned a long time ago that if there is nobody in the stands watching the races, then I don’t make any money! ”
Here I was talking to a NASCAR icon, an American Hero, presumably a wealthy race car owner and businessman. What really surfaced there was that Richard Petty, Mr. NASCAR, “The King”, was a very humble good ol boy and southern gentleman!! He was very appreciative that this young airline pilot at the time acknowledged him. But more importantly, he took time to talk to me, answer my questions and take an interest in what I was asking him. He wan’t all business!!
GOD BLESS YOU RICHARD PETTY!! THOSE ARE HUGE SHOES THAT YOU LEAVE TO FILL!!
ONCE AGAIN, I LOOKED IT UP SO THAT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE TO!!
IT IS 45 DAYS TILL “GENTLEMEN START YOUR ENGINES”!!!!!!
I WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY AND POSPEROUS NEW YEAR