Will New CAR CZAR Kill Auto Racing Support By Ailing Automakers?

Sam HeganCorrespondent IMay 15, 2009

With the Federal Government getting a controlling share of GM and a partial share of Chrysler; will we see government involvement in auto racing?

The nation has a new Car Czar, Steve Rattner. Rattner is a very bombastic person, having confrontations with the creditors of Chrysler already. Now both automakers are being told by Washington that they will be limited in the advertising goals for the business quarter. Will that mean a lack of funding for auto racing by GM and Chrysler?

It very well could mean just that. Both have said they were going to continue with their current programs, but if Rattner decides to look into such spending, we may finally see the end of the big three in NASCAR, SCCA and NHRA racing.

The racing fan would be treated to the big two Ford and Toyota, just like the bad ole early nineties when only Ford and GM were in racing. I personally will have a hard time enjoying a race series with only two makes running in it. How will a cessation of factory sponsorships affect the different racing series? Will it really matter that much? These are questions being asked by many race fans and no doubt, the teams it will affect.

Let’s first look at the new Car Czar, political appointee Steve Rattner. Rattner is the poster child for the term, “failing up.” A term that describes a person that is a failure yet promoted to a higher office or level. He is associated with many bad decisions as a so-called financial wizard. He advised mega publisher and friend Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. not to sell off "The Boston Globe" that was losing $100 million a year even after an offer of $500 million by publisher Jack Welsh.

The resulting advisement cost Sulzberger $1.1 Billion overall and a closed publication. Rattner next big screw up was in failing to find a buyer for the troubled New York Times in 2007 when that publication tried to go public.

These are just a couple of many recent failures by Rattner and it leaves me to wonder if President Obama’s appointment is killing the Detroit 3 for the last time. Time will tell, but as a race fan, I personally hope Rattner all the luck he can receive.

I also have this to interject, “Please Mr. Rattner, don’t make the auto industry worse than it is today and save a little bonus money for the racing program instead of giving golden parachutes to failed executives.”

Now Rattner has started with a huge bang. Rattner intimidated creditor Perella Weinburg Partners’ officers with threats of company and personal IRS investigations if they didn’t go along with the Obama bailout plan in a hearing for an ailing Chrysler.

This might be good if questionable business in the financial market, but it will make possible investors hesitate in investing with Chrysler in the end. I am having nightmares about the Federal Government’s involvement with the automakers and I get a bad case of acid indigestion thinking of their influence on auto racing.

Therefore, what could be the final effect of the mess in Washington and Detroit on auto racing? Any time the government gets involved it isn’t pretty. Auto racing should be exempt from anything relating to the government and should be apolitical not having a side in who or what party is in the capitol. With ties to the auto industry, I see no way they will not be affected in some bad way.

Rest assured the more government is great crowd will want to regulate it if for no other reason than some off the wall environmental issue. We all know NASCAR effects global warming, whale hunting, baby seal killing or rainforest destruction and NHRA has an adverse reaction to the spin of the planet.

You are now scratching your head wondering what I meant by that statement. It means it doesn’t have to have any correlation to be singled out by the government. When the government is involved, bad things tend to happen and there is no bad regulation if that regulation can be made.

Looking into my crystal ball, I can see a hybrid NASCAR. How about a government mandated hybrid powered NHRA Funny Car. Actually that might not be too bad, but let the series officials make that decision and not the government.

We will have to wait until the carmaker failures are issued to see if racing will be affected. I sincerely wish that the big three pulls out a miracle and the industry regains its legs. I also wish that a new car didn’t cost as much either, but that will have to wait for another blog.