Like many in the motorsports industry, Richie Wauters and Wauters Motorsports are looking to find the necessary funding to return to the racetrack. However, in a financially unstable, COVD-plagued economy, the already strenuous task of finding sponsorship has become even more difficult.
Just six weeks ago, Wauters Motorsports was set to begin their season at Daytona International Speedway, with 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion James Buescher behind the wheel of the organization’s No. 5 Toyota Tundra full-time in 2021.
These plans were made possible because of a commitment made to Wauters Motorsports by a sponsor, who verbally committed to be the primary sponsor of the organization’s entry in all 22 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events this season.
The agreement was set to be signed and sealed on January 15, but the day passed without a single word from the company, leaving Wauters Motorsports’ 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season hanging in the balance. Eventually, Wauters says that the company reached out to the organization, offering a full-season associate sponsorship to the team, instead of the previously agreed upon primary sponsorship agreement.
Granted, without the primary sponsorship – or a superman-like influx of funding – it didn’t make financial sense for the organization to continue with their planned full-season effort, leaving the offered associate sponsorship essentially obsolete.
Shortly after losing the season-defining sponsorship deal, Wauters posted to his personal Facebook page, offering a one-of-a-kind opportunity to interested parties, which would allow them to purchase a 49-percent ownership stake in the team’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series program.
Since making the Facebook post, Wauters has received a pair of inquiries regarding the ownership proposition, but no discussions have advanced past the initial stages. However, Wauters is adamant that this isn’t the only possible route for Wauters Motorsports to return in 2021, as the long-time crew chief says that all options are on the table, including putting someone else in the driver’s seat of the No. 5 Toyota Tundra in 2021.
Furthermore, Wauters says that there are even options in which a driver could join the team’s Super Late Model program, before eventually moving into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, something Wauters has been attempting to do since founding his driver development program in 1998.
More than anything, Wauters just wants to return to the racetrack, something the team has been prepared to do for the better part of a year. In the four years since Wauters Motorsports ran in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the series has moved to an Illmor spec engine program, an entirely new component that the organization has yet to experience.
The team’s entire fleet of trucks – originally built in 2017 – have been kept up to date and had their bodies rehung, in order to adhere to NASCAR’s ever-changing guidelines. IN fact, the team was prepared to return to the series for five races last season – in partnership with Billy Ballew and James Finch – with Erik Jones behind the wheel, but a lack of owner points and the elimination of extra on-track activities stopped those plans dead in their tracks.
However, Wauters says that the partnership between Ballew, Finch and himself is not an option this season, as both Finch and Ballew are focusing their energy on other ventures, inside and outside of the racing world.
For the last decade, Wauters Motorsports has been working to run full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, encountering a number of different obstacles. Between 2013 and 2017, the organization had three full-time drivers that did not last the full season, for different reasons, hindering the organization’s attempts to run the full schedule.
While there is no guarantee that Wauters Motorsports will return to the racetrack in 2021, what is guaranteed, is the fact that Richie Wauters will exhaust every possible option before throwing in the towel, if he ever chooses to throw it in.