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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

As NASCAR celebrates its year, Big 3 are begging for handout to survive

Two things are happening this week that affect the world of NASCAR.

One means very little: The top 10 teams will gather in New York and pat each other on the back for their successes they have achieved this year. All these drivers put in a great effort all season and will now reap the awards, both congratulatory and monetary, they they deserve.

The other is more important than some people realize: Down the coast in Washington D.C., a sad scene will be taking place. For a multitude of reasons people much smarter than I can explain to you, Detroit’s once mighty Big 3 automakers are going broke and will be in Washington begging for money from the federal government that they say is essentially for them to simply survive. These are the same companies that for years have thrown tons of financial support to their NASCAR teams and couldn’t imagine a day when they would have to worry about anything as drastic as survival.

As of today, Ford appears to be in the best position of the 3, but even their best scenario is just getting by without government help, and becoming profitable in a couple years. While they’re not crashing to the ground like GM and Chrysler, all they’re doing is grabbing on to a few windows on the way down to slow the fall.

While Congress was more than a little rude to the Big 3 CEOS last time around, frankly they deserved it for flying in unprepared on their private jets. This time, they will be letting the lawmakers know they will make sacrifices that are necessary so any billions they are given don’t go straight down the toilet.

In the long run, I truly believe that at least two of the three will make it out alive, though they will have to emerge as much smaller companies. Plans have been submitted that include the shedding of certain car lines, factories closing and more job cuts over the next several years that should, hopefully, allow the companies to return to profitability -- though it will unfortunately come at the expense of even more American workers.

Many will be hurt under these plans, but the alternative is frightening. When you add up the number of people who would be affected by the failure of GM, for example it’s astounding: GM factory workers, auto parts suppliers, haulers, truck drivers who deliver parts, restaurants and other stores in the area of factories that would have to shut down due to lack of business, teachers who would get laid off as families moved out of town when all the factories closed, etc.
Just thinking about it makes me shudder, as the entire state of Michigan would likely become a one-state Depression and the rest of the country wouldn’t be far behind.

NASCAR fans are notoriously loyal to their car brands, and everyone needs to realize that it is now a distinct possibility that those brands won’t even exist without some help. As the drivers look back this week on their seasons, I hope that somewhere in the back of their mind they’re rooting for the Big 3 to get the aid they need.

Because if things don’t turn around for these critical American companies, they might all be racing Toyotas soon. Not to mention the stands will be empty because no one who had any ties to the industry will be able to afford a race ticket.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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December 17, 2008 at 10:48 PM 

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