Richard Petty Motorsports owner George Gillett confirmed he has held conversations with Saudi Prince Faisal about expanding stock car racing in the Middle East and possibly getting him involved as a minority owner of his Sprint Cup team. Gillett, who also co-owns Premier League club Liverpool, is reportedly in negotiations with Prince Faisal to sell him his stake in the football team.
Speaking at Kansas Speedway, Gillett said that during conversations with a group representing the Saudi Prince, it emerged that there were common interests in motor racing and that expanding NASCAR-type series in the Middle East and building oval tracks, looked to be possibilities.
"We have had extended conversation about developing a race series," Gillett said. "They have several extraordinary road courses but they've actually identified 14 sites or more where you might put an oval track or two, or 14.
"In the process of our conversation, we signed a confidentiality agreement, which is a very standard corporate procedure. We signed it with regards to keeping matters confidential with regards to anything that we discussed about our [team's] cars, our engines and so forth."
Richard Petty Motorsports is currently working on a merger deal with Yates Racing to become a Ford team next season, after running Dodges since the early years of the squad founded by Ray Evernham in 2000. Both Yates and RPM signed a letter of intent, but the deal still has to be finalized, although Gillett said dealings are ongoing and progressing well.
Gillett reckons that having Prince Faisal become a minority owner of his Sprint Cup team would help have aligned interests in order to pursue their business initiatives related to racing in the Middle East. He clarified, however, that there were just preliminary talks on the matter.
"In the midst of [our] conversation it became clear that we should have aligned interests," Gillett added. "If they had a small interest in RPM... majority? Heck no! A small interest... If we had aligned interests we could have complete and open discussion. There would be no issues with regard to confidentiality and that's what happened.
"There had been no negotiations, no discussions of value or anything. It was a very early conversation. If he or they became small investors with us, I can't imagine it would be anything but positive for the sport."
Richard Petty Motorsports currently fields four cars in the Sprint Cup series and driver Kasey Kahne is among the title contenders in this year's Chase, having won two races in the first year of their partnership with Petty.
Gillett bought a majority stake in the squad known as Evernham Motorsports back in 2007, and the team was renamed after seven-time Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty for this year.