Baker Curb Racing, Middle Tennessee’s only full-time NASCAR team, has suspended operations indefinitely due to lack of funding.
Gary Baker, who co-owns the Nashville-based team with Mike Curb, said Saturday the team has not officially folded. He said it would reopen its doors if and when a sponsor is found.
But with the season less than a month away and no driver, crew or mechanics on board, Baker admitted the outlook is dismal.
“As it stands right now, we won’t be racing,” he said.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Baker, a veteran of four decades in the sport as a driver, marketing official, track owner and team owner. “Corporate America is scared to invest in the future.”
Baker said that if he could secure $1 million in sponsorship funds — considered a bare minimum for a team in NASCAR’s second-tier series — Baker Curb Racing could win this year’s Nationwide Series championship.
“This is a Super Bowl team, and we could bring home the championship to Tennessee,” he said. “Look what we were able to do last year with a team that was only three-quarters funded: Greg Biffle almost won several races for us. We were that close.”
Baker noted that his team is not the only one struggling with lack of sponsorships; even powerful Sprint Cup teams are feeling the economic crunch. Roger Penske was forced to park the car of former Indy champ Sam Hornish Jr. due to lack of funding, and Jack Roush likewise has made deep cuts going into the season.
“When people like Roger Penske and Jack Roush start feeling the pinch, you know it’s bad,” Baker said.
Four years ago, Baker and Curb purchased the team, then known as Brewco Motorsports, and moved it from Ownesboro, Ky., to its new location off Trinity Lane.
Baker, a graduate of the Vanderbilt School of Law and attorney for such country music celebrities as the late Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings, has always been immersed in racing. At one time he owned and operated Bristol Motor Speedway — annually voted the fans’ favorite track — along with Fairgrounds Speedway during the track’s glory years.
There is speculation that Baker might be interested in acquiring Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville should Dover Motorsports decide to divest itself of the facility.
“I’ve got too much on my plate to consider anything else right now,” he said. “My total focus is on our race team.
“If something should develop financially, I could put a team together fairly quickly — there are lots of good drivers and experienced crewmen looking for jobs. I haven’t given up [on the season] yet. But does it look good? No, it doesn’t.”