Swan Racing Situation Smells a Lot Like Bobby Ginn


            When Swan Racing team owner Brandon Davis announced before the start of the season that he was expanding his team to two cars in 2014, a lot of people were skeptical about whether or not this team was spreading themselves too thin.

            Today it was announced that Swan Racing is reevaluating their Sprint Cup program. No further details have been announced to this point. There has been a lot of skepticism about what that actually means. Thinking back a few years, this Swan Racing deal sounds very familiar to the situation from a former Sprint Cup owner named Bobby Ginn.

            Ginn was the owner of Ginn Resorts and Spa, and in 2006, with 16 races left in the season, bought into the number 01 team known as MB2 Motorsports. After the 2006 season, Ginn purchased the remainder of the organization, and in 2007, Ginn Racing debuted with three full-time Sprint Cup teams with Mark Martin (for 24 races, and Regan Smith for 12), Joe Nemechek, and Sterling Marlin as the drivers. He also had a Nationwide Series team, and also sponsoring one truck team.

            The team rolled off with a second place finish in the Daytona 500 with Mark Martin, and seemed to be headed in the right direction in the inaugural season. But the party was short lived, and after an off weekend following a race in Chicagoland, Ginn had some big news, and it wasn’t good.

            Ginn came on Sirius NASCAR Radio that week and stated that he was scaling back his program. Ginn announced that he was closing his Nationwide team, and pulling sponsorship off of the truck team. He also announced that Joe Nemechek’s number 13 team was going to shut down, and that Sterling Marlin would be replaced by Regan Smith in the number 14 car. Mark Martin’s number 01 car was to be untouched, except for now; Aric Almirola was going to split the ride with Mark.

            That also didn’t last long, and less than a week later, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) and principal owner, Teresa Earnhardt was to purchase the Ginn team, and it formed into a 4-car DEI team. The points from the number 14 car would move to Paul Menard’s car, and Mark Martin’s car stayed as the 01 but ran under the DEI banner. In less than 20 weeks, Ginn Racing was nearly a Daytona 500 winner, and was gone and the doors were closed for good.

            Bobby Ginn’s financial situation was a lot different than Brandon Davis’. The economy collapsed on Ginn and his resorts started to face lawsuits, but that’s not what forced his race team’s shut down. It was the fact that Ginn didn’t have the sponsorship to compete when he thought that he did. He ran without full backing, thinking sponsorship was coming, and it didn’t.

            He had no previous experience in racing. He’d never worked in the garage area, neither as a crew chief, nor as an investor. Bobby Ginn went into NASCAR Racing blind, and he paid the price for it. And today, we now realize so has Brandon Davis.

            Davis, owner of Swan Energy, bought into Inception Motorsports towards the end of the 2012 season. Inception Motorsports was created in part by driver, David Stremme and his investors, and was built up into a decent organization before Davis purchased it.

            With Davis aboard, the Swan team was able to run the entire race for the full schedule, and things were looking good and strong. Things were looking even better when Aaron’s and Michael Waltrip signed on to run the Daytona 500. Swan Racing was up and running, and doing very well with Stremme as the driver. While the 2013 season was winding down, it was announced that Stremme and Brandon Davis parted ways, and he was looking to put a rookie driver in the car for 2014.

            After three drivers auditioning, instead of choosing just one, he chose two, for two cars, and it was a shock to everyone. Cole Whitt and Parker Kligerman were the drivers, and Tony Eury, Jr. was let go as the team’s GM and director of competition, and was replaced by crew chief Steven Lane.

            With that move, it seemed clear that Davis was skimping on people, to find the funds to race. The team went to Daytona with two cars, and Kligerman and Whitt both crashed their cars in Daytona 500 practice. But the team only had one backup, yet another sign that the team may not have had the funds to run two cars, just yet. They ended up fixing Kligerman’s car, and Cole Whitt was given the backup car.

            Through the season, Whitt has been running a lot better than Kligerman. Whitt’s car has had sponsorship from Speed Stick Gear, but lately they seemed to have scaled back their program, and Davis was forced to get more funding from 50 Cent’s SMS Audio Company. Davis was tapping into resources already, and it wasn’t even half way through the season yet.

            Then there’s today’s announcement. And we can only hope for the best for Swan Racing. Many race teams have folded over the years, and we certainly need more than 12 owners in this sport. But Brandon Davis learned a hard lesson, and that is, before you go and do something, and put all of your money into it, make sure you know what you’re doing. Sounds simple, but it’s not. Bobby Ginn did the same thing as Brandon Davis years ago, and let’s hope Swan Racing doesn’t have the same fate as Ginn Racing did.