Stavolas Lays Off Employees

Stavolas forced to lay off 18 employees By Shawn A. Akers HARRISBURG, N.C. (Nov. 16, 1998) The Stavola Brothers Racing NASCAR Winston Cup team hasn't officially closed it doors yet, but on Monday morning, because of the lack of primary ...

Stavolas Lays Off Employees

Stavolas forced to lay off 18 employees By Shawn A. Akers

HARRISBURG, N.C. (Nov. 16, 1998) The Stavola Brothers Racing NASCAR Winston Cup team hasn't officially closed it doors yet, but on Monday morning, because of the lack of primary sponsorship, it was forced to lay off a total of 18 employees, team controller Donnie Johnson said.

Johnson said there is now only three employees, including himself, left at the Harrisburg, N.C. race shop. If owners Bill and Mickey Stavola aren't able to find primary sponsorship for the team for next season by mid-December or thereabouts, Johnson said the they will be forced to sell the shop and all of the equipment, including 12 "really good" Chevrolet race cars.

Johnson said letting crew members go on Monday morning was one of the hardest things he's ever had to do in his life.

"Yeah, the good part about a small team like us is that you get to be friends with your employees and crew. The bad part about a small team like us is that you get to be friends with your employees and crew," Johnson said. "And then, one day, you have to send them down the road.

"If we had bigger numbers here and you didn't know them all that well, then it would certainly be a bit easier to do something like that. But when you have a good relationship with all of your employees, it's really tough, especially at this time of year."

Johnson said that should the Stavolas are still talking to a couple of potential sponsors and desperately hope to sign one before the middle of next month. Should something develop along those lines, Johnson said that all of their crew would be welcome back at their former positions.

"Right now, we've got some people that we're still talking with, so I'm going to stick around and see if we can put something together," Johnson said. "We just don't know anything yet. We're hanging our hat on maybe finding something at the 11th hour.

"Those guys (their crew) have been very loyal to us and we hope that we can get something together and bring them back. But if we can't, we hope that they can find something else right away. If there's an angel out there that can help us out, we'd certainly appreciate him coming our way."

The Stavola Brothers broke into the NASCAR Winston Cup Series in 1983, with Bobby Hillin as their driver. Bobby Allison, Dick Trickle, Rick Wilson, Jeff Burton and Hut Stricklin have also driven for them since.

Earlier this year, after a sluggish start, the team released Stricklin from his duties, then lost its primary sponsor, Circuit City. Lack of sponsorship forced the team severely cut back on its schedule. It ran the final race of the season, the NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Nov. 8, with Morgan Shepherd as its driver and NOKIA as a one-race deal sponsor.

"Billy and Mickey have been around the sport for a long time, and they're just not ready to face the prospect of having to get out of it yet," Johnson said. "It's never been their primary business, it's just something they've really enjoyed doing over the years.

"But you know, the cost of being in Winston Cup has gotten so far out of hand, you've got to have a sponsor, no question. And sponsorships now cost about $5 million or $6 million dollars, so that eliminates a lot of companies right off the bat. It's unbelievable.

"We may just have to get ready to sell our equipment, or maybe lease it to a Busch Grand National team. If we can't get a sponsor, by the first of the year or the end of January, we'll either sell the equipment or have an auction for it. It's a shame, too, because we've got cars almost ready to go to Daytona (in February) already."

Source: NASCAR Online

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