Richard Petty: RTA wants to “make NASCAR bigger and better”

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Another key member of the Race Team Alliance has said that their nine-team consortium is not out to pick a fight with NASCAR.

In Indianapolis, seven-time Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty insisted that any perception of the RTA having grand plans to take over the sport is false.

The two-car Richard Petty Motorsports team is part of the RTA, which officially formed earlier this month.

“Our main deal is not to run NASCAR,” Petty said to reporters Friday at IMS. “Anything we do to tear NASCAR down is cutting our own throats.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make NASCAR bigger and better. Because if we don’t, then we’re out of business.”

The RTA has maintained a stance of wanting to create a consensus voice that can relay concerns to the sanctioning body and work on cost-cutting in multiple areas such as team travel, insurance, and parts.

Petty stayed on that track in his comments at IMS, likening the situation to a farmer’s co-op.

“So far, that’s my main objective,” he said. “Can I save on insurance? Can I save on travel? Can I save [on] some stuff that we’re doing for the race car. Can we save time at the racetrack, stuff like that that we’ll keep from having to overpay with what we’re doing right now.”

However, NASCAR CEO Brian France recently said that he didn’t think the RTA’s formation was necessary and that the sanctioning body would be “dealing with all of the team owners – not most of them, not the big ones, but all of them.”

As you’d figure, Petty disagrees with France’s sentiments.

“It’s really kind of a bad idea from the standpoint that NASCAR should be doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We belong to an organization…And NASCAR should be making the best deals they can for their organization.

“We see them do a lot of that, but they’re not doing it as much as maybe the new crowd wants.”

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”