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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sabates remarks about Michigan were pure stupidity

Felix Sabates knows better, which makes his words all the more disappointing.

He knows that his whole career is based on the U.S. auto industry, whose heart and soul is based in Detroit. Without it, he wouldn't be the millionaire he is today. He wouldn't have run his own NASCAR team for years, and he wouldn't still be a minority owner in Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team.

When he said in an interview earlier this week that the state of Michigan and the auto industry “is never coming back to what it used to be,” and suggested removing Michigan Speedway from the NASCAR schedule, he went way over the line of decency and respect.

This is not the time for trashing Detroit and Michigan. We nearly lost GM and Chrysler last year, and the Detroit automakers are just now starting on their way back to success after a tough year.

So I wonder was going through Sabates’ head when he said in an interview with the Charlotte Observer that: "I mean, there's nobody left in Detroit other than the police and the unemployed. I'd cut Michigan off the schedule altogether. Michigan -- I'm talking about the state -- is never coming back to what it used to be, so why go there and throw good money after bad money?"

I don’t see how this is a joke, even a bad one. Is it funny that people here are unemployed? I don’t think so.

And while it may not always be as riveting as Daytona or Bristol, MIS often puts on a great show, and it’s an insult to the people working there to suggest that the track shouldn’t be on the Cup schedule, not to mention an insult to the entire legion of auto workers, who work in the shadows of MIS in Southeast Michigan.

Beyond the MIS comment specifically, I was most insulted by Sabates’ insinuation that this region is dead and buried. hings may be tough, but GM and Chrysler are rushing to pay back their government loans, and Ford is thriving right now, having just turned its first profit in five years and not needing any government help last year.

His efforts to backtrack from the statement are lame, and sound like a forced apology.
"In an attempt at humor I made some comments about the city of Detroit and the people of Michigan that were in poor taste and that I sincerely apologize for. I have worked directly or indirectly with the auto industry for over 40 years as both a auto dealer and a NASCAR owner and it was never my intention to put down the auto industry, its workers, the city of Detroit or the state of Michigan,” the state read, continuing, “I have such respect for all of them. I am so frustrated over the challenges that this tough economy has brought to everyone in this country that I inadvertently joked about one of the areas hit the hardest. Those of us that have the luxury of getting to work in such a great sport like NASCAR owe a great deal to the city of Detroit and their support of the auto industry because without either, the sport of NASCAR would not be what it is today. In fact, Michigan International Speedway, even in this tough environment, drew an impressive 100,000 fans to the track at their last race. My sincerest apologies to anyone that I might have offended, it was certainly not my intent."
Call me crazy, but I don’t think he wrote that himself. It was more likely one of those “Sign this statement” deals cooked up by the Ganassi squad in an effort to minimize the uproar. I can’t imagine Chip Ganassi was too happy with him.

I agree with the underlying point of Sabates’ discussion, which was on the topic of contraction. I agree there are too many races, and we should remove a race from some tracks. Pocono is brutal to watch, so take one from there. Same for California, and I could probably pick a couple others. But to suggest that MIS shouldn’t even be on the schedule is beyond stupidity. I recognize that the auto industry is different than it was decades ago, but that’s no reason to trash the city and region.

The most amazing part of all this is that without Detroit and its great automotive products, Sabates would not have enjoyed the great career he has had in racing his whole life. For that reason, his insults are pure stupidity, and I hope the response to his comments makes him start to appreciate more what this state has done for him.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Felix has always been a wanna be and will never be a winner! His management of teams and poor choices of drivers were always second class and his name in now attached to 2 more wanna be's. Felix loves to hear himself talk and could care less who he hurts
! NASCAR will be much better off when he is our of racing.

Steve - Atlanta Georgia

January 31, 2010 at 11:35 AM 
Anonymous Big Henry said...

Well, the truth hurts sometimes. Michigan and the Detroit area in particular, are bombed-out slums...the state has the one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

What do you want us to say? Everything is great? Getting better? Please.

I'm with Sabates on this one....

January 31, 2010 at 2:08 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

It's a free country Henry, so I respect your right to have an opinion.

But that doesn't change that you're flat-out wrong.

Sure people are out of work, and there are some really bad sections in Detroit, but that's true everywhere in America right now. Unemployment is up ,especially in Michigan, but those numbers are on the way down. Last I checked, the economy goes in cycles.

No Everything isn't great, but it's getting better, whether you admit it or not.

Negative people like you and Sabates only make things worse by spreading falsehoods.

I'm not sure what you have against Detroit and Michigan, but I fail to see the point of comments like yours and those of Sabates.

January 31, 2010 at 2:17 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Felix has always said stuipid things. This is part of the reason why the fans are discontent the man shows no loyality to anyone but his wallet like Nascar seems to do. When Cuba had nothing to offer him he bailed on his homeland and he would bail on Michigan in a minute if they could not make him any money. You are right about his apology he did not mean it.

January 31, 2010 at 3:04 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sabates comments were stupid about removing the race in Michigan. However anyone who believes that success in automobile racing has anything to do with the survival of the auto industry is drinking the Daytona Beach Koolaid.
Note that the company most successful in Nascar for the last few years went BANKRUPT!! Ford won 2 races last year and made their first annual profit since 2004.
Anybody see a pattern?
Perhaps its a few well heeled people who want the golden goose to keep laying those eggs.

January 31, 2010 at 3:22 PM 
Anonymous Charlie said...

Wrong about one thing: Felix made his money off of Atari and got involved in autos and racing after that.

January 31, 2010 at 3:40 PM 
Anonymous Marcus said...

Matt, I am glad you had a comment for Big Henry. He should be embarrassed that he flaunted his ignorance for the whole world to see. I am from Metro Detroit and many people there are effected by the Auto Industry, but clearly Big Henry knows nothing about the Detroit area because Where I grew up is quite the polar opposite of the "slums". As far as the NASCAR aspect, to say that Michigan should lose a race because of it's economy is also stupidity. Michigan also draws thousands of fans from Ohio,Indiana,Illinois, and Canada.
I am in the military and currently live in Virginia Beach, but spent 22 of my 24 years growing up around the city of Detroit and I am very proud to be from the State of Michigan.

January 31, 2010 at 5:08 PM 
Blogger tom1194 said...

GM and Chrysler are rushing to pay back their government loans?
Just curious where you got your info. They are talking about paying it back with taxpayer money, that's all I heard.

If Felix (the mouth)said Detroit and Michigan will never return to their former greatness, he is probably right and should not have to apologise for telling the truth.

GM is selling off to the Chinese and the Chinese will be making the parts and the mexicans will be assembling the cars and shipping them to the US. Don't think it can happen? Look down in Virginia. Some of the big furniture companies were buying the resin, shipping it to China, China would make the parts, ship them to mexico, Mexicans would assemble the furniture and ship up to the US thanks to NAFTA. Next time you are in the Martinsville and the surrounding area, look at the huge warehouses and factories closed up. Why do you think Detroit is going to be any different? It's not a cycle, this is a spiral and if people don't wake up it's going to get worse. I don't know about pulling races but (the mouth) is not far off on his economic prediction.
One more thing. Unemployment is running out for a lot of those people up there so they are no longer counted as unemployed by the government, they are in limbo, so yes the unemployment figures will show a downward turn as they move away. That's truely sad

January 31, 2010 at 7:12 PM 
Anonymous Prof pi (Jeff Thompson) said...

I lived in Detroit for two years (1999 to 2001, almost next door to the art museum and science center,...and I went back just a month ago,..Felix's description is way too close to accurate. It is the whole Detroit area, see the Washington Post article on trying to unload the Silverdome.

Matt, it's called reality, Detroit will never again be what it was in the 1960's, or 70's, nor will the US auto industry.
China is now the largest producer and buyer of automobiles, and they're just getting started.
Wishful thinking isn't going to solve any of our problems, or Detroit's.

January 31, 2010 at 8:03 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

ATTN: Prof pi (Jeff Thompson):

No one is saying the Detroit-based auto industry will dominate like it did in the past.
I'm just annoyed when people want to declare it dead. I know lots of people making great new cars in Detroit and they will sell once the economy starts to pick up. There's no need to attack the city and kick Detroit while it's down.

And Regarding the Silverdome price, that's just a sympton of the economy (house values are down everywhere across the country), and I don't see much connection to the auto industry.

China buys more cars, but there are about five times as many people there, so I wouldn't worry about that.

And to your last point, I'm not just using wishful thinking. I see the people around here every day and know how hard they will work to make this area return to some decent level of success, even if it's not what we had in the past here.

January 31, 2010 at 8:38 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

greed is why GM took taxpayer money
Chrysler is a joke and Felix Sebates is an idiot also the government in MI is @ great fault.
I left the former great state of MI 17 years ago thank god!!

January 31, 2010 at 8:51 PM 
Anonymous Marcus said...

tom1194 and prof pi(jeffrey thompson)wanted join Big Henry in flaunting their ignorance all over the web for everyone to see, haha. I believe they forgot that the whole country is in a recession right now, and that the economy is down across the whole United States, not just Michigan and the city of Detroit. Detroit has been hit worse than other parts of the country, but there are a lot of resilient people there that will get the industry there turned around. Michigan-the state- is as beautiful of a state as I've ever seen. And I've seen very many. People will return to the state, just as I plan to do.

February 1, 2010 at 8:04 AM 

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