Published on April 14th, 2009 | by Michael J Smith1
DEI's Fall From Grace
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing’s decision to park its famed No. 8 Chevy is a sign of the economic times we’re in. But, it is also a sign of just how far the team has fallen.
And while I don’t know the reasons for some of the business decisions being made by Teresa Earnhardt, I suspect that pride and stubborness are leading to the mismanagement of the company that Dale Earnhardt Sr built.
Since Sr’s death, Teresa hasn’t had much interest in the sport, often skipping appearances at the track. She’s been called an absentee owner on several occasions.
She let pride get in the way when Dale Earnhardt Jr made his highly publicized bid for ownership in the company. Jr frequently complained that DEI was doing nothing to keep up with the competition. He contended that the team was not purchasing new technology that would help performance, and that the team was not expanding, despite being too big for its shop in N.C.
Teresa was so stubborn and arrogant that she let NASCAR’s most popular driver walk away, and expected the team to survive.
She wouldn’t even let Jr take with him the number he put back on the map. I can understand that the No. 8 has sentimental value to DEI, but it’s not like Jr and Rick Hendrick made an unreasonable offer. I think they also would have agreed to return the number, when Jr was finished with it. But, Teresa went out of her way to ensure that they would not get the number by seeking a percentage of licensing revenue.
Since Jr jumped ship, DEI has been a sinking ship. The team merged with Bobby Ginn Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing. It lost three sponsors in Budweiser, US Army, and Menards. It lost drivers Mark Martin and Paul Menard. And is rumored to be in danger of losing Martin Truex Jr and Bass Pro Shops.
Sadly, things will not improve until Teresa gives up control of the company, or she stops letting foolish pride and personal reason influence business decisions.