The big news around the NASCAR world centered around reports that the France family would be exploring a sale of NASCAR. According to Reuters, the France family is working with Goldman Sachs to try and broker a deal but it’s very early in the process.
NASCAR was started by Bill France Sr. in the late 40s and the sport has been passed on through the family to his son Bill Jr. and now Brian France. The actual ownership of NASCAR has been within various members of the France family all this time.
It’s tough to fully speculate what will happen with NASCAR. In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that none of this comes to pass and the France family won’t sell. According to the AP, a memo was sent to NASCAR employees confirming that the France family “remains dedicated to the long term growth of our sport.” Either way, it seems like this will result in one of four scenarios ranging from most to least likely:
1) The France family doesn’t sell at all and remains in complete control of NASCAR. Considering it’s very early in the process and lots of things need to happen between now and actually selling, any big and small thing can undo a deal that this is the most likely scenario at the moment.
2) The France family sells a stake in NASCAR but they will remain majority owners. That gives them a little bit of cash infusion for other potential investments (the Carolina Panthers are for sale…) but will remain in control of NASCAR.
3) The France family sells a majority ownership stake and keep a little bit of power but will leave much of the work to the new owners. Maybe if the right offer came along, and it was big enough that the France family couldn’t refuse, this could be an option.
4) The France family sells the entire sport and completely leaves things behind. This is probably the least likely scenario as I’m pretty sure they will want have some sort of decision-making power within NASCAR.
A potential deal to buy NASCAR should be attractive for a variety of reasons. Despite concerns about a fanbase that’s getting older, in addition to lower ratings and attendance, NASCAR’s current TV deal from 2015-2024 is worth close to $8 billion. In addition, NASCAR just launched an iRacing eSports series, owns the IMSA sports car series and just bought ARCA, the independent national racing series that sometimes races during NASCAR weekends but also on local short tracks. That, along with expanding NASCAR worldwide through Canada, Mexico, Europe and Asia, there is room for potential growth despite ratings and attendance concerns.
As far as who could buy NASCAR, the only names floated out are purely speculatory. I don’t know if they are interested but I wouldn’t be surprised if Comcast is interested. Either way, I’m sure whichever company is interested, they will be closely looking at Liberty Media’s ownership of Formula 1 and see how that goes.
Considering it’s very early in the process, it’s very easy to let your mind wander about a story like this. Doesn’t hurt to let your mind wander, just know that it could be a while if a sale even happens. But if it does, it’ll bring potential changes that we can’t even imagine.