His latest foray into the white heat of the sport was in support of a drive to bring a new kind of racing to American fans. Yarborough was the national spokesman for the Team Racing Auto Circuit and member of the series’ board of directors.
Its prospects looked good. Though no drivers or team owners were officially signed on, the circuit had a television deal that seemed to spell success. But it wasn’t to be.
“When I started working with TRAC, they sold me on some ideas and I sold them on some ideas,” Yarborough says. “NASCAR is great, but as popular as motorsports has become around the world, I think there’s room for another series that’s a little bit different.”
The series, based on four-car teams representing cities instead of owners, was set to begin next spring, but Team Sports Entertainment Inc., the owner of TRAC, announced in late August it was discontinuing its effort to field a racing league.
Instead of going head-to-head with NASCAR, TRAC had opted to take a novel approach to auto racing by structuring the circuit in a traditional sports-league format. Instead of an individual winner, the finishes of the four-car teams would have been tabulated to determine the victor.
TRAC had hoped to field six four-car teams, putting 24 cars on the track in a given race. Plans called for a 12-race regular season (two home events for each team), then a “playoff” race to determine the TRAC championship.
Instead of stock cars, TRAC vehicles were based on muscle cars. For the inaugural season the pilots would have driven Dodge Vipers, Ford Mustangs and Chevrolet Camaros.
TRAC was supposed to have its inaugural season this spring, but it was unable to line up owners and drivers in time for a 2003 start. There was also upheaval in the front office. TRAC then pushed back its first season to May 2004, but its inauguration now may never come.
According to a statement released by TRAC, the company’s business plan depended on its ability to sell operating rights by Sept. 30, 2003. After realizing doing that would not be possible by the date specified, TSE decided to pull out – effectively sounding the death knell for the circuit.
The board of directors, including Yarborough, will now meet to determine the next steps, which, according to a statement, include developing a new business, identifying any available combination opportunities, bankruptcy or dissolution.
Meet the Drivers
Hometown: Chesapeake, Va.
Drives Motorcraft Fords for Wood Brothers Racing.
Rudd recently established Ironman status in NASCAR Winston Cup competition, making his 700th career start in the Pennsylvania 500. In his career Rudd has 23 victories, and his best points finish is second.
He began racing at age 9, competing primarily in motocross and go-carts.
Amazingly, prior to his Winston Cup debut in
March 1975, he had never driven a stock car.