Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Higher education of racing

The Associated Press reported last week that Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., will attempt to enter a race car in several Nationwide Series races this year. The story - first reported last year by Jake Stump of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail - notes that a part-time team of local West Virginians are trying to run a limited series with a driver who has competed in only 11 Nationwide Series races. It's a heart-warming story of an underdog team trying to make it to the big show.

There's one catch to this pitch. While the Marshall emblem will adorn the car's hood, the university will not pay a single penny for the sponsorship. Turns out that the team owner, Dana Tomes, is a Marshall alumnus and is giving the free advertising to his alma mater. They hope to gather the $75,000 it costs to race each weekend through small sponsorships and donations. Good luck with that.

It's hard enough to compete in NASCAR's second-tier series even with major funding and a spacious race shop. Herd Racing, however, built its only race car in what basically amounts to a barn. That may have worked in Days of Thunder, but it sure as heck won't work in 2008.

This isn't to say I won't be rooting for Herd Racing and driver Brett Rowe - whom I've interviewed before and is a class act - when they attempt to qualify at Bristol next weekend. Unfortunately, this race team has little chance for success. In the end, this appears to be just another PR stunt by people looking to capitalize on the rapid success of NASCAR.


Amanda Gillooly said...

I don't know much about NASCAR, but wouldn't that be like a college football player getting time in an NFL game? It is a great story, would be a greater story if they actually succeeded. From what you say, it seems like they don't have a chance (you said it -- Tom Cruise isn't drivin' that thing). And really, what a silly way to memorialize your alma mater? That cash could have been used to fund scholarships or something...

"Matt" said...

I don't know if you remember this, but back in 1996 and the very beginning of 1997, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were supposed to sponser Lake Speed's ride. The deal fell through, because Nebraska wasn't paying the bills. However, this is not the first time there's been a scenerio like this. There is a rather sizeable difference between mid-90's Nebraska football, and any period of Marshall.