23XI Racing has invested more in NASCAR recently than SMI


Over the weekend at Martinsville Speedway, Denny Hamlin explained how frustration over the current stalemate in revenue-sharing negotiations between the teams and NASCAR led to a social media argument with Marcus Smith.

Specifically, Hamlin said the collapse of the newly redeveloped Sonoma Raceway is a harbinger of what could happen at North Wilkesboro Speedway and a broader reflection of how Speedway Motorsports is reinvesting broadcast rights revenue back into the sport.

It's a more dynamic agreement than that, but the oversimplified version of NASCAR's broadcast rights agreement calls for teams to get 25 percent, tracks to get 65 percent and NASCAR to get 10 percent. A new agreement to share broadcast rights revenue is currently being negotiated, but is currently in a contentious stalemate.

The exact percentage of broadcast revenue for teams is slightly higher than the 25 percent when money is included, but Hamlin believes Speedway Motorsports is not investing adequately in its tracks.

He also says his 23XI Racing team, which he co-owns with Michael Jordan, has invested more capital into the sport over the last decade than Speedway Motorsports.

“It's frustrating because we know they take a lot of the money, and whenever we go to an SMI track, they take the majority of the money from TV revenue,” Hamlin said on his podcast Monday. “And I personally know how much I have invested in 23XI. I dare to guarantee you that 23XI has invested more in this sport than SMI over the last 10 years. And we did it in four years. Only this one team has invested more in this sport. So there is a problem there. Especially when we get about half of what they get on any given weekend.”

Hamlin says he has had conversations with Smith that address the exact revenue they receive and that the track owner is unwilling to reveal that figure in even broad terms. He says Smith won't reveal that number because it's so much and he believes Smith isn't spending adequately on its facilities and racing surfaces.

“My disappointment with SMI is that I don't feel like there's been any real investment on their part, and that can certainly be addressed if they've done the ROVAL [at Charlotte Motor Speedway] – OK, I think the ROVAL has been over for a few years. I think everyone in the industry and probably the fans would rather have us back on the oval at this point,” Hamlin said. “Because oval racing was so stagnant, they made it their mission to drive the ROVAL. You can say they brought North Wilkesboro back – COVID brought North Wilkesboro back. They used COVID resources. They got a lot of money from the government for this. So North Wilkesboro was always theirs, but eventually they reinvested the investment there.

“It was good to see and I’m sure there’s more to the story. We could probably list a number of things that made her positive. They redesigned Atlanta. But when I look at these tracks, I say: Let's look at the last three or four paving jobs that SMI has done. And they had to put patches on the track before we even had our race cars on it.

“Obviously in Sonoma you have different contractors that do the paving work, and Marcus said, 'Well, we have different pavers in Sonoma than we do in North Wilkesboro.' “I didn't even know North Wilkesboro had a problem.” And so I think, “That could be your problem because you don't have communication with your people.” Yes, there have been problems and that probably will be the case in the future be.”

Matt Weaver is a motorsports insider for Sportsnaut. Keep following him Twitter.