Saturday, November 20, 2010
Richard Petty says RPM will 'make it'
By David Newton
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Stopping short of saying he has financial investors to keep his Sprint Cup organization afloat, Richard Petty said Saturday that Richard Petty Motorsports will compete in 2011.
This came a week after the minority owner of RPM said he was in limbo for next year.
Employees at RPM will get an indication Monday morning of how the company will move forward. According to a memo, a mandatory 8 a.m. ET meeting has been called, with instructions for no one to come to work before then.
"We're going to make it," Petty said. "That's all I can say now."
A source in the Cup garage said RPM, in order to restructure its financial situation, may have to shut its doors for at least a day, release most employees, then re-open.
Petty would not confirm that, saying only "nothing's off the table."
Regardless, major layoffs will occur as RPM will shrink from four cars to two after this season, with AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose the only drivers under contract.
Petty has been working for the past month to gain majority interest of the company. George Gillett, who currently owns majority interest, put RPM on the financial brink after the recent sale of the Premier League Liverpool soccer team that went for far less than the bank loans he has.
Petty would not confirm he has found investors to make it, but several sources in the Cup garage said the pieces appear in place. Ford Racing officials met with Petty for a briefing Saturday. Afterward, Ford spokesman Kevin Kennedy said: "It was a good meeting. We're confident it will get worked out.''
Edsel Ford II, a member of Ford's board of directors, said keeping RPM in the fold is paramount.
"We've done everything we can,'' he said. "Quite frankly, a lot of their suppliers have done the same."
Ray Evernham, who sold majority interest of what was Evernham Motorsports to Gillett in 2007, has been working with Petty to keep the company at the track the last few races. Evernham believes the organization can be successful in 2011 once Petty gets out from under the "ton of debt."
"I think he has the support to get it done," Evernham said.
Evernham said he has no details on what will happen, noting the latest paperwork he saw listed Gillett as having the highest percentage of ownership, followed by Evernham, Petty and Boston Ventures.
Asked if Gillett still owned his stock shares, Evernham said: "That changes by the hour. You get paperwork one way and you get paperwork the other way."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.