Humpy Wheeler Helping Unemployed NASCAR Workers Stay on Their Feet

Jen PrestonSenior Analyst INovember 30, 2008

Reports estimate that the NASCAR layoff rate could jump from its current stand of 393 to anywhere between 700-1,000.

Jayski is reporting that the Hall of Fame and Yates Racing organizations could be announcing their cuts as early as this coming week.

Crew members aren't the only ones feeling the pinch.

Drives like AJ Allmendinger, Scott Riggs, JJ Yeley, Scott Wimmer, Bobby Hamilton,Jr., Kyle Petty, and this year's Rookie of the Year, Regan Smith, are all looking for jobs next season.

“In the '70s and '80s, I think it was even worse economically, but teams were much smaller then,” said former president and general manager of the Lowe's Motor Speedway Humpy Wheeler. “Some teams back then were letting go 50 percent or more of crew members. But that was only five or six people. Today cut backs might be less percentage of the team, but could equal dozens per organization.”

Sitting back and doing nothing has never been Wheeler's style. He has partnered with the North Carolina Motorsports Association to set up the Motorsports Employment Taskforce in an effort to help the growing number of displaced workers stay in the NASCAR field.

“When you count up the small teams too that we don't hear about, the Nationwide teams and smaller Truck teams we likely have over 1,000 people losing their jobs,” expressed Wheeler. “Historically those who lost jobs in the past moved back to their hometown States and we lost them from the area. The main thing is that we don't lose them from the region. This has major economic impacts to all of the community including non-motorsports related business.”

The Task Force's first meeting was last Friday, November 21st, and included representatives from NASCAR, the North Carolina Legislature, NC Biotech Center, The NCMA, NC- Community College Motorsports Consortium, Career Transition Consultants, The Wheeler Company, Centralina Workforce Development Board, NASCAR Technical Institute, Compass Career Management, and Belmont Abbey College.

Main objectives for the Task Force are to get the information out to race teams about employees, but also to help the unemployed "with information and steps to guide them in their sudden career path changes."

The city of Mooresville, North Carolina is also stepping up the plate to help workers in need.

According to Mooresville-South Iredell Chamber of Commerce President Karen Shore, Mooresville's business community is "ready to support, embrace, work with these displaced workers in any way that we can to help find other positions for them."

Thanks to Bloomberg, the St. Louis Examiner,, NASCAR Scene Daily, Jayski, and Statesville for the quotes and information used in this piece.