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A tough week for the sport of NASCAR....

  Jim Hunter: When things get tough, or when trouble strikes, this is the man the NASCAR Frances put on the point. But now Hunter himself is in the fight of his life (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   The bad news came in waves this week, and all the good vibes spilling out of the Las Vegas awards banquet seemed to fade to black too abruptly.
   Even the celebration of Jimmie Johnson's historic fourth straight NASCAR championship couldn't overcome the hard hits of this week:
   First, on the heels of the sudden dismissal of General Motors head Fritz Henderson, came the unexpectedly decision by new Chevrolet boss, and long-time racer, Brent Dewar to step aside too.
   Not good news for NASCAR, no matter how you cut it...not just the loss of one of the sport's staunchest supporters up in Detroit but also the another piece of a picture that GM's board chairman Ed Whitacre simply is in over his head in trying to manage the car company. Better perhaps that Whitacre now simply turn the job of running GM over to somebody else and leave quietly before creating any more damage.
   Dewar, promoted to the job just five months ago, is leaving GM next April, but he has already turned his keys over to a new man, Jim Campbell. And that, on the same day that the new head of Buick was also shuffled out, after even less time on the job.
   Whitacre, who has almost boasted that he knows virtually nothing about cars and Detroit, seems to be living up to that, with the latest shakeups.
   Then, on top of all that chaos in Detroit, came another hard blow to NASCAR, with word that Jim Hunter, one of the sport's most authoritative voices down in Daytona headquarters, and one of the sport's most knowledgeable figures, has been hit with cancer.
    Hunter, a former newspaperman, was once head of Darlington Raceway, once head of Talladega Speedway, currently head of NASCAR's communications division....but is best known for his work as the France family's 'consigliere,' the man they all turned to in times of trouble, and the point-man in dealing with hot button issues. Hunter missed the last four races of the 2009 season and has been taking massive doses of chemo to fight the disease.
    Having Hunter on the sidelines during this crucial period in the sport's struggles to get back on the fast-track, and having Dewar essentially sidelined too, is a double-whammy.  Few have the depth and understanding – and commonsense -- these two have about this sport.

   Brent Dewar: the right man for the Chevy job, when picked just five months ago....so what in the world is going on now at General Motors? Just chaos and confusion? (Photo: GM)

   The loss of Dewar's steady hand at the Chevy helm in these unsettled economic times would be bad enough – Chevy not only dominated the sport this past season but has at least 12 full-time Sprint Cup teams relying on a strong anchor in Detroit – but Hunter being sidelined too is just as serious a blow. Of all the men in this sport, Hunter easily has the best world-view and the most commonsense. Hunter, 70, has been in the thick of every fight NASCAR has had to play out lately.
    Throw in the still up-in-the-air situation over at Chrysler-Dodge, where little known Ralph Gilles has been abruptly thrust into the role as boss, with the surprising early-fall decision by Italian execs to axe long-time racing enthusiast and Dodge boss Mike Accavitti, and the Detroit question looms larger than ever for the sport of stock car racing.
   Yes, Danica Patrick is helping NASCAR make good headlines....and, yes, Kyle Busch is trying to do his part too to rally the struggling Truck series....and, yes, NASCAR won yet another court victory in that long-running Kentucky Speedway debate (though adding any Cup date in 2011 to the Cincinnati suburbs doesn't look like it would really solve any pressing issues in this sport)....and, yes, it looks the Frances' new track mega-boss Joie Chitwood (after 14 years running Indianapolis Motor Speedway) is going to be shaking up the management lineup at the family's International Speedway Corporation (there is a new president at Homestead-Miami Speedway this week). And that Volkswagen puff out of the Homestead weekend finale may have been just that, puff, although intriguing.

  GM CEO Ed Whitacre: Getting criticism for chaos at General Motors...and has a reputation for not listening very well to others (Photo: GM)

   But the two biggest stories this week are Jim Hunter and Brent Dewar.
   This sport has to hope that Hunter gets well fast, and that Dewar isn't lost to history.
   It is hard to overestimate the importance those two men to NASCAR.
   Hunter in particular – he has been in the heat of NASCAR battles for more than 30 years, and few if any have more commonsense about life and this sport.
   Consider this: Michael Richards had just been hired Dec. 1 to head GM Buick (hired by Bob Lutz, no less, and presented to the world in the Los Angeles Auto Show), and just eight days later he was out, leaving the same day as Dewar.
   It all shows a picture of General Motors in disarray and will inevitably lead to questions about Whitacre's leadership.
   And where Lutz himself might still fit in here is unclear.
  Whitacre, who comes from AT&T, was first seen, when arriving on the GM scene, as perhaps a new Alan Mulally, the 'outsider' who jumped from Boeing to Ford Motor Company and has done wonders running that operation. So far Whitacre's reign has been filled with confusion and chaos and uncertainty. Some Detroit observers are now pinning the label 'mediocre' on Whitacre, for his ineffective leadership.

  Ex-Boeing exec Alan Mulally has done wonders since taking over as CEO at Ford. Maybe GM's Whitacre needs to check out how Mulally does things (Photo: Ford)

  Anyone who has hung around Dewar for a few years could sense that he has a John Middlebrook 'big picture' understanding of the world and where Detroit fits in. Middlebrook (the GM exec who had the France family on speed-dial for Monday morning post-race analysis) is the GM legend who finally stepped down last year after 49 years, lately as head of global sales and marketing.
   When Dewar was named Chevy head in June, it looked like a stroke of genius – the right man for the job at just the right moment in history.
   In contrast, Dewar's decision to follow Henderson out of the GM picture would seem to be a damning vote of no confidence in Whitacre and the new GM board, which still seems to have little idea of how to focus the car maker, little sense of any big league game plan. How GM failed to keep Saturn alive, even with that bid by the esteemed Roger Penske, should be questioned too.
   And that's part of the world facing NASCAR's Jim, Lesa and Brian France, and Mike Helton, as the short off-season break gets underway.
   There's not much, probably, they can do about Detroit's problems (heck, if Chevy's 1-2-3- sweep in the Sprint Cup standings didn't make the case, what else could).
    So the big issue facing the France family and Helton now is the chink in the armor while Hunter fights his own battle. And they've got to be hoping Hunter gets well quickly and back into the game.

  Keep fighting, Jim. The sport needs you, now more than ever (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)





next year

It appears now that I, and a lot of other people, won't be watching much golf next year, maybe some of us will add a little NASCAR to that Sunday sofa afternoon.
I hope all of us have a merry Christmas and a better new year.
You too MM.

GM Chaos

This is exactly the way our health care will be if The Obama Administration has its way as it did with the auto manufacturers!

Jim Hunter

In addition to being experienced and knowledgeable, Jim Hunter is one of the finest human beings on the planet.

GM and Nascar both out of touch and failing

Everyone knows how GM has made Nascar's Big Bosses rich ,and how in turn The BIG Billionaire Bosses of Nascar have "tweaked" the rules to let GM have all the dictated advantages over all the less wealthy and more honest compeitors who are allowed to be only bit players in Nascar's GM dominated "Rules Controlled SHOWS" Facts and Statistics Prove this beyond a shadow of any logical doubt. Important questions need to be addressed: First,as the GM "$ugar Daddy" for Nascar's Big Bosses tries up and now enlightened fans continue boycotting Nascar'sWCW & WWF-style "Rules Controlled SHOWS causing Nascar attendance and TV ratings to tank-----WHO will kick in the BIG BUCK$$$$$$ to ensure extravagant lifestyle the spoiled,wealthy,aloof Nascar Big Bosses are accustomed too??? Second,how long will the always victimized Auto Makers like Chrysler,Ford,Etc support a "Rules Controlled" GM dominated "SHOW" when they will never be allowed by the Big Bosses to be anything more than Bit Players?? Finally,could Japanese toyota replace GM's fading Big Buck$ and become the Nascar ig Bosses's new "$ugar Daddy" ??? That answer could be found in Yota's domination of the Truck and Nationwide Series !! THINK ABOUT THIS LOGICALLY and OBJECTIVELY---this is the TRUTH like it or not!!


Wow. You're really sucking up to the guys that killed GM. I shouldn't have to remind you that GM lost market share under Middlebrook. GM also pumped a ton of money into NASCAR and still lost market share. Just exactly what did all of the NNASCAR effort do for GM? Almost nothing.

Jim Campbell is the manager who started the Corvette racing program. The Corvette racing program actually helped sell cars. I've bee a huge critic of the Corvette effort over the years but the return on investment was far greater than the roi for NASCAR.

The managers that killed GM simply had to go. They could no longer claim they were the only smart guy left at GM. If they were there 30 years they were part of the problem. There was a history at GM of claiming everything was the other guys fault. The new CEO isn't buying into that. Good for him.


Hunter and Detroit

Jim Hunter is a good person and was always pleasant to speak with in the times I talked to him at Loudon.

The chaos at GM is to be expected with government meddling on top of the cancerous import the UAW long held over the company.

Jim Hunter

Not truer words could be spoken about Jim Hunter. I first met Jim twenty five years ago (though it seems like yesterday) and he has been the voice of reason forever. Jim, I hope you get well very soon!

GM Problems

Mabe Mr Whitacre has found out about how much GM is spending in Nascar and decided they need to stop! Remember they lost Billions in the last 10 years!

Also mabe he has found out that winning a Chase does little to show results on monday!!

Nascar seems to be a 'Division of GM' in the favoritable treatment with the rules for years!

After seeing Nascar ore ISC sueing GM for over $600.000 for hospitatily things at their tracks may explain why the Daytona 500 tropy is named after Harley Earl, and also a 75% chance they sweep speedweeks at Daytona and Talledaga the last 15 years!

You are only allowed to dominate with a bowtie on the hood!!!!!

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