In June, Red Bull Racing owners announced that they planned to sell the team or shut down after the final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On Thursday, the reality became true as the shop began to lay off approximately 152 shop employees.
With the unique pairing of ownership and sponsorship all in one, the Red Bull Racing looked to be a good idea on paper.
The Austria based company entered NASCAR in 2007 against all odds. They hired Brian Vickers and former Champ Car champion, A.J. Allmendinger. Battling the odds of creating two brand new teams, using a new manufacturer to the sport, and learning the current car as well as a new car (COT), Red Bull Racing struggled through its first season. After 32 unsucessful qualifying sessions and finishing the 2007 season with both teams outside the top 35 in points, RBR used the next season as a growing time getting Brian Vickers and the No. 83 team into every race and finishing the season 19th in points.
At the end of the 2008 season, RBR swamped Allmendinger for Scott Speed, a l0ng-time Red Bull athlete and accomplished open wheel driver. 2009 was by far their best season in NASCAR. Vickers and the No.83 won their first race for the organization at Michigan International Speedway and got them into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Vickers signed a contract extension and seemed to be the face of Red Bull in NASCAR – and the future looked promising.
Little did anyone at Red Bull Racing what was to come 11 races into the 2010 season with their promising star. Vickers would be sidelined due to health issues and unable to finish the sason. The remainder of the season was basically just to salvage the best finishes possible and to make strides for the following season. As 2011 approached, excitement was running high for Red Bull Racing and their fans. Brian Vickers was cleared by doctors to return to racing full time and Kasey Kahne was joining the team on a one-year contract, replacing the struggling Scott Speed. With two experienced drivers behind the wheel, emotions were running high for a double Chase berth; however, after many weeks of tough luck, neither team was able to accomplish that dream. As the organization prepared to close its doors, Kasey Kahne and the No. 4 team brought a final bright spot by winning at Phoenix International Speedway in the second to last race of the season.
While Red Bull has expressed desires to find an investor to take over and continue to run the shop, the lay-offs come at a time of year when most plans for the next season are already in place. Red Bull Racing was definitely a team for the fans. According to their website, 174, 361 pieces of merchandise have been sold since the opening of the company. Red Bull Racing team definitely their mark on the sport.
Stock Car Spin bids Red Bull Racing a fond farewell! Thank you for the Red Bull at the track.