The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) saved several NASCAR teams from firing employees or even shutting their doors, according to data revealed this week.
More than a dozen organizations that field entries in NASCAR’s top three divisions filed for the loan program, which ranges from $150,000 to as much as $10 million. Richard Childress Racing (RCR) received the largest loan among NASCAR teams, with the Small Business Administration (SBA) reporting the organization was approved for the highest loan range, which is $5 million to $10 million. RCR said in the report that the loan saved 334 jobs, which span its NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series entries.
Chip Ganassi Racing and Roush Fenway Racing, two organizations that field cars in the Cup Series, received a loan in the next group, which is $2 million to $5 million. Both teams, according to the SBA’s report, retained 179 jobs. The loans for the three major organizations were approved between March 3 and March 10.
The PPP was created as part of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump at the end of March. Last week, the president signed into law a bill to extend the PPP for another five weeks.
The PPP has received criticism since its creation because while the program was meant to support small businesses, many larger organizations have received loans. Some have actually returned their payments in the face of public criticism.
NASCAR sent teams home on March 13, just as they arrived at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The sanctioning body approved a plan to be one of the first U.S. sports back in action as stay-at-home orders ended in North Carolina and its surrounding states.
NASCAR’s first race back was a single-day event on May 17 at Darlington Raceway, more than two months after teams had last hit the track. Teams took quite a financial hit during that span. Sponsorship deals that were in place for specific races at designated tracks had to be shifted, or were even canceled.
A day prior to NASCAR’s return, Xfinity Series competitor David Starr lost his ride with JD Motorsports, as reported by Frontstretch.com. And fellow Xfinity Series racer Ray Black Jr. followed suit because his family-owned business faced too many unknowns.
Fortunately, no teams closed their doors during the two-month hiatus. However, several organizations did furlough employees because of a lack of sponsor income during that time.
JTG-Daugherty Racing, a Cup Series team with two entries, received a PPP loan of $1 million to $2 million, as did GMS Racing from the Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series. JTG reported it retained 88 jobs while GMS kept 89 people on board.
In the $350,000 loan category, Kyle Busch Motorsports and DGR-Crosley from the Truck Series, as well as Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series, were beneficiaries of the program. The only Cup Series team to receive the $350,000 loan was Premium Motorsports, which merged with Rick Ware Racing during the shutdown.
Jimmie Johnson Racing Inc, seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s private business, and Jeff Gordon Inc. received $150,000 loans. JD Motorsports received a $150,000 loan, too.
NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity team received a $150,000 loan. Rev Racing reportedly saved 12 jobs thanks to the loan. Hattori Racing Enterprises from the Truck Series did the same, keeping 13 people on staff.
Go FAS Racing and StarCom Racing were the two Cup Series teams that received a $150,000 loan from the PPP.
Multiple racetracks were also approved for PPP loans, including Pocono Raceway, which received $350,o00, reporting it kept 142 people on the payroll. Pocono just held the first-ever NASCAR doubleheader weekend, with premier series races held on both Saturday and Sunday.
Circuit of the Americas, which hosts a Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas, received a loan of between $2 million and $5 million. The track said it saved 75 jobs.
Prior to the pandemic, several teams were struggling as TV ratings declined and multiple longtime sponsors left the sport. However, since NASCAR returned, FOX Sports reported an 8% percent increase in ratings.