Thursday, January 01, 2009

The King: The Legacy Ends Here!

Photo property of Snafam, 2009

The news that the world of NASCAR has been fearing has finally happened. It now appears that, after 60 years of the Petty name in our sport, the only remnant of that legacy will be Richard's name. According to many sources, there will be an announcement next week. Lee Spencer, of FoxSports writes:

"Multiple sources have confirmed that after 60 seasons of stock car racing and 10 championships, America's first family of stock car racing will shut its doors and merge with the team currently known as Gillett Evernham Motorsports."

Rumor has it that the new organization will be named Richard Petty Racing. Richard will be the icon, but sadly after seeing the way that Gillett Evernham Motorsports has handled their relationships with Robby Gordon, Ray Evernham, and Elliott Sadler, I know in my heart that the Petty Family Legacy is now done.

We knew this was coming, but we are none the less saddened.

Photo property of Snafam, 2009

I used to rule the world
Seas would rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sweep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own

I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing:
"Now the old king is dead! Long live the king!"

Lyrics from "Viva La Vida"
by Coldplay

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Elliott Sadler Gets Fired: Debunking Rumors and Myths!

For two days, listeners of Sirius radio have been inundated with callers expressing their own opinions on the 'firing' of Elliott Sadler. Searching the internet forums and message boards finds the same widely ranging opinions, with several based on incorrect facts.

The initial reports of the 'firing' of Elliott Sadler from Gillett-Evernham Motorsports reported that at the same time Sadler was fired, Ray Evernham was also cleaning out his office. Many jumped to the conclusion that Ray was leaving because Elliott was fired. It now appears that the joint Elliott Fired-Ray Packs Up rumors were more of a coincidence.

Ray Evernham was on Sirius, not once, but twice, this week. On Monday, Ray joined Sirius Speedway host Dave Moody. Joining Dave for the interview was Pit Reporter Danielle Frye. Ray was asked some of Dave Moody's typical soft-ball questions, where Ray claimed he was 'caught by surprise' by the news. Ray also claimed he did not have knowledge of what decisions were made. Later in the interview, Moody started to ask Ray a broad question about Ray's participation in the driver change, and Danielle interrupted, and asked point blank....if Ray knew about AJ replacing Sadler. Ray admitted Tom (Reddin?, GEM CEO? ) had asked him the question, quite a while ago. So much for being 'surprised!'

Ray also was interviewed by David Poole, on Sirius's show, The Morning Drive, on Tuesday of this week. Ray came on to specifically address Poole's assertion that perhaps Ray was 'burned out.' Ray quickly stated that was not the case, and he was preparing for his new career. As regular listeners to Moody's show know, Ray has been steadily methodically removing himself from GEM, and has created a new office for his new career as a track owner/promoter. Ray said the timing of cleaning his office out was always in this time frame, hence it was a coincidence that he left, and Sadler being let go were revealed to the press at the same time.

Many bloggers and forum members have made an assumption that Sadler was informed of the decision to 'let him go' on Christmas Eve, or right before the holiday. Apparently, after hearing from some Sirius guests (people 'in the business,') this rumor had been floating around among race team members for a few weeks. This certainly ties in with the flight time line of Elliott's personal aircraft's trips, as mentioned in blogger One Lugnut Short's blog entry titled "Elliott Sadler, You're Fired!" (Take the time to read Lugnut's take on Andrew Lloyd Weber and Elliott Sadler, it is a gem!)

Jayski reported that Sadler's contract will be bought out by George Gillett. This makes sense, and is indeed part of most driver contracts. (i.e. if someone wants out early, that same someone has to pay a fee to break the contract. Sadler indeed forfeited all of his future prize monies with Wood Brothers so that he could leave for Yates Racing, way back in 2002.) Ray discussed that there were a lot of things he could not say, not only for sensitivity of the subject, but because of 'disparagement clauses!' Many have complained that Sadler has not come out of the Virginia woods to talk about this, but due to the disparagement clause, Sadler will likely not discuss this at all, or at the least, it will be softened up with the typical 'side step' that Sadler does so well. Some believe that Sadler and GEM have not yet finalized what those 'out clause' payments will detail, and there will be nothing to hear from Sadler until that is settled. This also explains why there has been no comment from Brett Griffin, Sadler's business manager, and spotter, aka Spotter Dude and Bird Man, even though Spotter Dude has been lurking on the Sadler message forum for a few days!

At some point, Sadler will have to speak on this. I am sure, though, he will refrain from commentary until he has a new ride in place. He usually does a noticeable job of not throwing his former teams 'under the bus' so I am expecting nothing less than politically correct biz-babble from Sadler.

This situation has to be a blessing to the majority of the NASCAR media regulars. Normally, this time is very difficult for the media. They are still working, but there is very little noise coming from the team shops. Adding in the fact that many teams are on furlough or on extended vacations, the news coming out of the shops is spotty. Sirius hosts are thrilled to have something, indeed anything, to talk about this time of year!