You Don't Tug on Superman's Cape
I sat back and opened my computer the other day, looking at racing news, and I see that “The King”, Richard Petty says “We have had numerous discussions with Smithfield Foods regarding the extension of our relationship, dating as far back as February,” in a statement issued from Richard Petty Motorsports. “Over the past few months, Smithfield had continually told me they wanted to be with us, and I recently shook hands on a deal to extend our relationship. I come from a time when we did major deals with sponsors like STP on a handshake.”
I thought that the deal with Smithfield was a done deal, and that the 43 would have sponsorship even with Aric Almirola leaving for greener pastures.
Then I see where Kenneth M. Sullivan, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Smithfield Foods comes out swinging… Swinging at “The King” with his statement “We are extremely disappointed that Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has chosen to disparage Smithfield — its lead sponsor — after five years and tens of millions of dollars of unwavering financial support, despite years of subpar performance on the track.”
“RPM’s claims of a ‘handshake deal’ to extend our sponsorship are unequivocally and patently false. Smithfield’s numerous discussions with RPM over the past several months focused exclusively around one issue: RPM’s inability to deliver on the track and the organization’s repeated failure to present a plan to address its lack of competitiveness.”
“Smithfield is a performance driven company and we demand performance from the people we do business with. For that reason — and that reason alone — Smithfield decided not to renew its contract with RPM when it expires at the end of this year. It is very unfortunate and disheartening that RPM has chosen to disseminate false statements regarding our communications to NASCAR fans who we have supported wholeheartedly with more than a $100 million investment in the sport over the last several years.”
Now, I have seen lots of back stabbing done in NASCAR over the years but this takes the cake! To stand up and call Richard Petty a liar… hummm… by a CEO of a company that likes to praise itself as an “All American company”, when in fact is now owned by a Chinese Company, which purchased Smithfield for 4.7 million back in 2014.
But to come out and say that Richard Petty is a liar? The icon of the sport, and you're going to call him a liar? Really? Well for me, it’s a no brainer; I will no longer purchase Smithfield products, period. Not because I am ticked off about the statement, but because there are some things in this world you just don’t do. You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, and you don’t call the King a liar. Yeah I know that isn’t the way the song goes, but you get the idea.
Honestly, regardless of how the actual deal went down, it just rubs me the wrong way. Now I know that Smithfield Food’s isn’t going to miss my choice to no longer buy their products; it becomes all about principals.
At one time, sponsors were honored to have the chance to step up and help teams out. There was a privileged feel to it. It was an honor for a sponsor to have its name on cars. Sponsors stepped up, to get their names in front of the NASCAR fans, who were known to be extremely product loyal to sponsors of NASCAR and its teams.
At one time, NASCAR would dangle naming rights to races in front of a room full of sponsors, and they would fall all over each other to get that right. Now NASCAR can’t give the naming rights away. In this time of instant gratification those rules seem to have changed. Now it’s the sponsors who make the rules, set the bars, and call the shots. Look at Subway and the youngster Daniel Suarez over the Dunkin Donuts ordeal. Subway said it put them in a bad view with the fans, because Subway is a “wholesome” company. Yeah right!
Now it seems that not only is the old-school type racing gone, but so is the way sponsors used to treat teams and the royalty of NASCAR.
Invitation to everyone reading:
Should you be just really bored on a Monday night, and decide you would like to have some laughs, hear some opinions and learn some history of the sport of racing, I would like to invite you to tune in to The Mitch Walker Show on Performance Motorsports Network! My show air's live every Monday night 9:30 to 11:30 PM ET on www.performancemotorsportsnetwork.com The show re-airs every day at different times, which are listed on my show's Facebook page
The link to listen is listed there as well.
c-ya @ the track