History Holds the Back Story ~ RPM
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and a fond ol’ Howdy to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR related. We do hope your enjoy your stay, and promise this will be a gentler column than last week’s tirade.
There’s been much talk of late, or as this scribe likes to call it, much ado about nothing, (Will Shakespeare was a friend of mine, you know) on a subject about which I hadn’t intended to write a single word. However, yesterday (Tuesday) I literally tripped over a file of things I’d completely forgotten about… a series of posts done in an effort to breathe new life into that Yahoo Fantasy Racing group where my alter ego, the Lady in Black was born. These bits were from 2010, which is what I’d brilliantly named the folder. Upon opening “2010”, clueless after seven years as to what it contained, I started reading and couldn’t stop laughing.
Part of the game were antagonistic letters between the Lady in Black and “Mike Helton.” The gentleman playing that part shall remain nameless, as you wouldn’t know him anyway. What follows is a slightly edited excerpt from one of those.
Now, about that policy that says a team can only run four cars? Mike, we need to talk. Did you really think you could outsmart The Cat in the Hat? You haven't seen the day. Let me lay something out for you. Roush Racing is now Roush-Fenway Racing, and in keeping with your policy, kicked Jamie McCutey out the back door. BUT… and there is always a "but" Mike. But, Roush has always… well, for a lot of years… had an "agreement" with Yates Racing that sharing was a good thing. That makes the Roush and Yates Fords brothers under the skin.
Meanwhile, Evernham Motor Sports no longer exists, having been eaten alive after Ray thought he could sell half-interest to some money machine, ala Roush Racing. That entity, by a trick of naming, seems to be owned or run by Richard Petty, but it is neither. The King just has a nice marketable name, so they cut him a tiny slice of the pie in exchange for selling it to them. Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has now announced a merger with Yates Racing, which means that the RPM Dodges that now belong neither to Petty or Evernham will become Fords and will now be part of the "Alliance" between Roush and Yates. And don't even get me started on Hendrick Motor Sports, Stewart Haas Racing and Junior Motorsports. In case you haven't been paying attention, it will only take a couple more strategic "mergers" and there will BE only two teams in NASCAR. Who knows what names they'll appear under on the record, but they'll be within your useless and unenforceable rule… and that's all that matters, isn't it?
For the curious among us, you’ll find a more comprehensive and better presented explanation of all that in a 2010 article by David Newton.
So… what does all that prove? As the old Country song goes, “No one knows what goes on behind closed doors” and that certainly applies to any deal made in NASCAR. The point here is that despite the name of Richard Petty Motorsports, it is more than highly unlikely that Richard himself could make or approve any deal with anyone for any reason in the name of Richard Petty Motorsports. He “oversees” the garage aspect, but the amount of his ownership shares is miniscule in light of the $Millions in debt paid off by his financial partners.
Now, we come to the “deal – no deal” between RPM and Smithfield Foods. Both sides could have done a far better job of handling that divorce of sorts, but chose to fight it out under public scrutiny. If you’ve followed what I’ve said and cited here, then it should stand to reason that in no way would a handshake or any other method of agreement hold any binding contract between the two parties. The call simply is not Richard’s to make. Conversely, it was far less than necessary for Smithfield Foods to issue a rebuttal statement, essentially calling Richard Petty a “Liar.” One just doesn’t do that… but apparently it’s OK in China, where despite claims of being a hometown based enterprise, is where the profits go… the $14,000,000,000(Billion) company having been sold in 2014.
Please understand, I have no dog in this fight; my only intent is to shed as much light as possible on the situation. I’ve heard many folks vowing to boycott Smithfield Foods in retaliation for the smear on the King’s good name and reputation. To those good folks, I’d say be careful what you wish for. Is it your intent to adopt a Vegan lifestyle? While it’s true that once upon a time, Smithfield Foods was a small, hometown enterprise, this little hog farm has grown into a virtual industrial giant.
Let’s visit the page listing the brands selling under the Smithfield Foods domain. There, for your convenience, are listed what they call their 13 “core brands” and I’ll wager most all of them are familiar. Most are very old and trusted names, established in earlier centuries. A click on each will give you an overview of the product and that includes a link to the product’s own page. This is one of the most comprehensive listings this scribe has ever seen.
Ah, but don’t stop there. Just below those 13 core brands is a little “plus sign” that invites you to investigate some of their “regional and international” brands. Most of us won’t recognize all of them, but all of us will recognize some of them. Keep moving the arrow… there are a LOT of brands here. Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores? Did anyone know that Smithfield owned that enterprise?
Smithfield has come a long way from where it started in 1936. Back then, a boycott might have been felt. Today, even if massive, it wouldn’t be the equal of a mosquito bite. Take a look at what they call their base of operations today… still in Smithfield, but things have certainly changed over the intervening years. The size and scope of what we tend to think of still as a local product, simply boggles the mind. In 1914, poet Carl Sandburg described Chicago as “Hog butcher for the world. No more!
Again, I’m on no one’s side here, and didn’t like the inferences and innuendoes from either side. I just know where to look to find the true story, and the story behind the story. Gee, I’m glad I found that old file. Before that, I had no idea what this column would be about. I hope all my gentle readers enjoyed a bit of a peek behind the scenes.
Forgive me, but I just couldn’t resist using those little banjo-strumming pigs for this one. Today’s Classic Country Closeout will again be from the series we’ve been following, featuring all those wonderful stars of the 1950s. Any Country show that opens with Little Jimmy Dickens just has to be great! Please enjoy!
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!