NASCAR continues to have contact with foreign-based carmakers who are not yet involved in stock car racing but have manufacturing plants in the United States and may want to market through NASCAR, sanctioning body chairman Brian France said Sunday.
“Clearly there are some companies that are going to look at opportunities that may not have been there in the past,” France said.
Of NASCAR’s four current manufacturers, Chrysler and General Motors are in bankruptcy and Ford has reduced its expenditures on racing.
In Detroit’s backyard, at Michigan International Speedway, GM announced on Friday it was cutting support throughout all three of NASCAR’s major divisions — Cup, Nationwide and Trucks.
Toyota, though its worldwide passenger car sales have been lagging, stands now as the strongest supporter of NASCAR among manufacturers.
But other brands could help fill the void if the traditional American carmakers should weaken further and reduce if not eliminate their NASCAR participation.
“We have companies that are interested in particular in developing the North American market as robustly as they can,” France said. “And we’re all aware that there are lots of foreign manufacturers producing cars here in America. That was part of the rationale that Toyota used” to get involved in NASCAR.
Other such companies with U.S. plants include Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
But, “I’m not going to name names,” France said. “We have been talking to people off and on for a long time. These are decisions, in terms of new manufacturers joining the sport, that will take a long time to evaluate and actually enter.
“So this isn’t something that if we turn the light switch on tomorrow morning it would happen.
“But of course, we’re the preeminent place in America for car manufacturers to build their businesses with an auto racing group. We remain that.”