Could NASCAR be up for sale?
According to a Reuters report released Monday, NASCAR majority owners have entered into preliminary discussions about the potential sale of their majority stake. Reuters reported that while the discussions are exploratory in nature and no deal is imminent, the France family — which has owned NASCAR since its inception in 1948 — at least has real interest in selling the motorsports company.
Citing sources familiar with the sale, Reuters reported that NASCAR could attract interest from media companies and private equity firms.
Reuters also said that NASCAR is working with Goldman Sachs in exploring potential deals. A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs declined to comment. NASCAR spokesman Jon Schwartz also declined to comment.
The possible sale of NASCAR comes at a time when the industry has been grappling with declining sales.
Concord-based Speedway Motorsports, which owns nine race tracks nationwide including Charlotte Motor Speedway, saw its total revenue fall 7.4 percent last year. Admissions-related revenue fell to $86.9 million, down from $90.6 million the year prior, the company said in its annual report filed in March.
NASCAR's current television agreements with NBC and FOX expire in 2024, and the company has explored developing its own media network rather than licensing its content out again.
NASCAR has cited a number of reasons for the decline of its TV ratings and race-track attendance numbers in recent years, including the retirement of fan favorites such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a slow economic recovery for its middle-class fan base.
NASCAR has seen some changes recently in its sponsor lineup, too.
In April, NASCAR chief operating officer Steve Phelps said that NASCAR's extension with Monster Energy was only for one season — instead of the anticipated two or more — because the sport is looking at pivoting to a different business model. The Monster deal was reportedly worth 40 percent of NASCAR's old deal with its title sponsor, Sprint.
A handful of other sponsors have ended their deals with NASCAR over the past year, too, including Lowe's, Target and Subway.