The decision by any team owner to shut down a race team is always disappointing.
It’s tremendously so in this case, Furniture Row Racing having bucked the odds and built a championship-winning team more than 1,500 miles from the nearest competition.
It was the little team that could, David felling Goliath, you get the idea.
It may have started as a hobby and a dream for team owner Barney Visser, but it quickly became a business. An expensive business and one that required not millions of dollars to operate but tens of millions.
Think about that. Tens of millions.
And there were years when those millions weren’t coming from outside corporations, they were coming from Visser himself.
Before Bass Pro Shops came on board in 2016 and 5-Hour Energy in 2017, there was Furniture Row and Denver Mattress and that was just a fancy way of saying Visser was funding his own race team through his companies.
It got expensive and it got there fast.
Which made the loss of 5-hour Energy, which will depart from NASCAR at season’s end, all the more painful.
The alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and the switch to Toyota in 2016 took Furniture Row to another level, competitively speaking. A team that had won only twice in 16 years won four times almost before the ink was dry on the contracts.
Then last year, twice that many wins, capped off when Truex and his No. 78 team captured the championship with a victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
But wins don’t come cheap. The alliance with JGR means Furniture Row pays a pretty penny for each and every chassis that come from Gibbs and the cost to obtain technical information is staggering according to most teams that choose to go that route.
And according to Visser, those costs were continuing to escalate.
“We’ve been aggressively seeking sponsorship to replace 5-hour Energy and to offset the rising costs of continuing a team alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing but haven’t had any success,” Visser said in a statement issued Tuesday.
On top of the tremendous costs, there was also Visser’s health to consider. Sidelined by heart trouble last fall, he was unable to attend races during the playoffs, including the championship-winning finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
He has since returned to the track. How that medical event impacted his outlook is something only he knows, though.
And if he was to step aside, his children don’t appear to have an interest in running the organization, although similar to his health, that’s another personal matter that Visser has kept private.
Furniture Row isn’t the first to fold and it won’t be the last. But the demise of the organization is a very real concern. If a championship-winning team can’t secure the necessary funding to compete, what does that say about the long-range outlook for the sport?
“To be successful in any business you need to assemble the right people and make a strong commitment to succeed,” Visser said. “We achieved what we set out to do and feel like we climbed Mount Everest.
“To continue with anything less than a competitive team would not be acceptable.”
He could continue on, spending his own money while the search for sponsorship continues.
But Visser has already been down that path. And seen countless others before him.
He knows where it ends.