Richard Petty Motorsports' Drama and Financial Problems

Ashley McCubbinAnalyst IOctober 28, 2010

FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Team owner Richard Petty watches during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi Max 400 on October 8, 2010 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In a story that has been continued to be followed since the release of Kasey Kahne last week, it looks like there are a lot of developments towards what might take place from this weekend and into the future.

NASCAR RaceHub reported Tuesday that Richard Petty Motorsports much less may not be able to make it to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, much less next year. However, it was announced Wednesday that they’d be at Talladega.

With the Petty name being known in the sport and not a name that many would like to see go, Richard Petty is now working at staying in the sport.

According to Sporting News, Petty owns four percent of the team. The only car that equates to his ownership as per NASCAR’s list of owners is the No. 43 car, while George Gillett owns the No. 9, No. 19, and No. 98.

Sources told Fox Sports that Petty met with Toyota principals and Michael Waltrip Racing at Martinsville on Sunday, with meetings continuing into this week. Could an alignment be made between Petty and Michael Waltrip to salvage the No. 43 team in this deal?

The only problem for Petty in trying to secure something is that the deal lacks a sponsor as no sponsor has signed yet.

The only sponsor signed within the entire RPM organization is Stanley Tools, rumored to be worth $10 million, with Marcos Ambrose and the No. 9. Negotiations are reportedly still continuing between RPM and Best Buy to see if they’re return to the fold with A.J. Allmendinger.

The other two cars are expected not to run next year as Budweiser has gone to Richard Childress Racing with Kevin Harvick and Menards followed Paul Menard on to his new deal.

This would not be the first time that Petty has teamed with Toyota as RPM ran Toyotas during part of the 2009 season. That deal cut shot as Toyota could not match the amount RPM wanted and they went to Ford. With this deal falling apart and possibly this being the King’s only solution, could this deal come together again?

"I've been here since 1949 and I'm going to be here till they run me off,” Richard Petty told ESPN Sunday at Martinsville.

Jack Roush, who leases chassis and motors to RPM told ESPN that Petty was working on getting investors together to get controlling interest of the team; however, Petty did not comment about that.

"I haven't got anything to tell you except speculation on somebody else's part and my part and that ain't going to get anybody anywhere," Petty said. "When we do get all of it together we'll get it together.”

The only problem with trying to gain investors is that it may be a tough toll for Petty to accomplish as not many people would be willing to invest money in something that looks to be failing. With how tight the economy is, people are now more weary of their money and are finding ways to spend it carefully, no matter how much they have.

Gillett is also trying to keep himself within the sport as Gillett is actively seeking investors. Sporting News reports that their sources say Gillett has hired Gordian Group, a New York-based investment bank, to assist them in their search. He also has FTI Consulting, a global consultancy specializing in corporate finance, working on finding investors, through the bank that lent Gillett the money to buy the team.

Sporting News goes on to report Gillett, who owns as much as 70 percent of the team, defaulted on it’s roughly $90 million loan last February. Sirius Speedway reports that he still owes $70 million to Wachovia Bank, while still making payments to Ray Evernham for the purchase from him. Evernham told Sirius Speedway that Gillett is up-to-date in his payments.

The sale of Liverpool FC was suppose to help Gillett restructure it; however, it sold for a amount far less than expected causing some of these strains.

To try to put some of the pieces together, Gillett sold his stock in the companies that operate the Northstar-At-Tahoe Ski Resort in Vail Resorts on Tuesday, which is worth $63 million as according to Sirius Speedway.

In the end, this looks to be boiling down to a situation where somebody who knew nothing about racing thought he could throw some money in and make something happen. In reality, he once again is another example of someone who should have done this homework first.

With how this boiling down, it’s only a matter of time for when Gillett is done in the sport. Hopefully he does not take one of the sport’s biggest names, Petty, down with him.