I’ll be the first one to tell you that I know little to nothing about law. However, it seems to me from working for a place where our customers have to sign a contract, some people seem to get screwed over a lot by not researching the contracts and making sure they are educated on their rights.
Now when a driver signs a contract to drive a certain amount of races, he is expected to show up for practice, qualifying and of course the race. However, sponsors and teams seem to be exempt from any and all rules or binding contracts!
I can’t even name them all, but good and not-so-good drivers alike have been shafted a lot. For instance, 2008 defending Camping World Truck Series champ Johnny Benson had his team fold early last season due to lack of sponsorship, and Casey Mears has lost several sponsors and rides.
Tonight on Next Time By, we were discussing how Kelly Bires, driver of Junior Motorsports' 88 car in the Nationwide Series, may be out of a ride during some races in 2010 in favor of JRM’s new gem, Danica Patrick. Bires had been scheduled to run a full schedule, pending sponsorship, with the exception of Daytona as Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving the 88 in that race. However, if Miss Patrick decides to run races other than the 12 she’s set for, Bires could have to say goodbye to his ride.
Now, it may just be me, but couldn’t that be considered a breach of contract? Now, JRM has signed a contract with a driver and what the stipulations of that contract are, one can only guess, but I’m certain it's got to be binding on both ends. Just like the wireless company I work at, we’re required to release customers from their contracts in certain instances. Say, if the wireless company changes something in the contract, then they are in breach of contract. If a customer doesn’t agree with it, they are automatically allowed release from their contract. Many customers don’t even realize this and end up thinking they are stuck in a contract for 18 more months because of a new charge they don’t agree with. I get the feeling this is a sort of flip-flopped version of what goes on in NASCAR.
With the recent announcement of Miccosukee possibly pulling their sponsorship from Kyle Busch Motorsports, there is now a lot hanging in the balance. They’d also been scheduled to run a Cup schedule with Aric Almirola and a full-time Nationwide ride with James Buescher. So what will happen to these already underfunded teams should this sponsor pull out of NASCAR? Has Miccosukee already signed a contract to run these races? If so, what penalty do they have to pay to pull out of the contract early? If these teams have to pay, then what does the sponsor have to pay? Along the same lines, Casey Mears, who drove the 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet with Richard Childress Racing, recently lost his ride due to a sponsor pulling out of NASCAR. However, Mears’ contract was only a one-year deal. Still, it doesn’t seem right.
On the same note, what do teams have to pay when they pull a driver out of a car he’d been scheduled to drive for no good reason other than to replace him with someone they think is better? I get the feeling they will not suffer nearly as much as the driver will suffer. Bires stands to lose a lot more than Patrick or JRM do and it's not right. JRM has three cars and can afford to run a few races without sponsorship. The initial impression had been given that the 88 would be running a full schedule, sponsored or not. That doesn’t seem to be the case. At any rate, JRM seems to practice a lot of favoritism.
Whether you agree here or not, one thing is sure: it leaves a lot hanging in the balance when a sponsor pulls out or a team backs out of a contract with a driver.