NASCAR hires bank to look for buyer

France family has owned the racing company since its inception in 1948

The France family is reportedly exploring selling all or part of its ownership of NASCAR. Attendance and TV ratings have dipped since the early 2000s. (Michael Shroyer / USA TODAY Sports)

NASCAR’s owners are searching for a buyer to purchase at least part of the sports league, multiple outlets reported Monday.

Reports say NASCAR is working with investment bank Goldman Sachs to sell part or potentially all of the company’s assets.

NASCAR had no comment for multiple outlets, and neither did Fox or NBC, which hold broadcast rights in the U.S.

Founded in 1948 by Bill France Sr., the stock car racing series is still privately held by the France family, with France’s grandson, Brian, serving as its CEO and chairman since 2003 after taking over for his father, Bill France Jr., in 2003. Both elder Frances have since died.

As NASCAR is a privately held company, it is not known how much of it may be owned by Brian, his sister Lesa France Kennedy, her son Ben Kennedy (a racer turned official) and France Jr.’s surviving brother, Jim France, or for that matter any of the children of Brian (still minors) and Jim. ESPN has reported based on lawsuits filed in recent years that Lesa France Kennedy and Jim France are co-owners.

The Frances also have a controlling stake in International Speedway Corp., a publicly traded company that owns 12 of the tracks NASCAR races on. France Kennedy is the company’s CEO.

NASCAR bought the lower-level ARCA series last month, a move seen as an attempt to start consolidating the grassroots racing that leads up the ladder to NASCAR’s three national series, the lowest-level Camping World Truck Series, mid-level Xfinity Series and top Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

NASCAR, based in Daytona Beach, Fla., has struggled in recent years with dwindling attendance and TV ratings, and rumors have swirled for a decade a sale could be coming. Ratings and attendance peaked in the middle of the 2000s, and at that time, some parties pegged the sport’s value as high as $5 billion.

But sponsorships have become harder to find in recent years as many of the sport’s biggest stars retired, from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Monster Energy came aboard in 2017 to sponsor the top series, with a deal estimated at $20 million a year, well under the estimated $70 million a year Sprint had paid a decade earlier.

Rumors have swirled that Brian France will be a bidder for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The president and COO of the other major track owner, Speedway Motorsports’ Marcus Smith, is also connected to a pursuit of the Panthers.