How a kid from Long Island ended up owning a NASCAR team
by Peter Schwartz On Wed, Mar. 29, 2017
Growing up on Long Island, Andrew Murstein was a huge sports fan. He was even a big WWE fan cheering on the likes of Andre the Giant and Bruno Sammartino. In fact, one of the three objectives that he had when entering the real world, along with owning a bank and entering politics, was to own a sports team.
There were two reasons why Murstein wanted to get into the sports world.
“Both a passion for winning, as well as making a lot of money,” said Murstein. “The best of both worlds. I love sports because there is a definitive answer. I love winning and hate losing.”
Murstein has yet to reach his political goals, but he is the founder, President and largest shareholder of the Medallion Financial Corporation, a company he launched in 1996. In 2008, Murstein raised $220 million for a sports fund and began the process of trying to buy a team. He looked into buying the Chicago Cubs, Montreal Canadiens, and even the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League.
But what about NASCAR? Did he ever see himself owning a race team?
“To tell you the truth, not really,” said Murstein. “I knew very little about it. I never went to a race or even watched it.”
Well, sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
In 2010, he was negotiating with George Gillette to buy the Montreal Canadiens when the subject of NASCAR came up.
“He owned Richard Petty Motorsports and we started talking about that,” said Murstein.
And those discussions led to Murstein teaming with DGB Investments and Richard Petty himself to buy RPM from Gillette for less than $50 million. So how does a nice Jewish boy from Long Island not only end up with a NASCAR team but one with the premier team name in the sport?
“Luck,” said Murstein. “I was at the right place at the right time.”
Murstein proceeded to learn as much as he could about the sport. What he lacked in knowledge about racing cars, he made up for with applying his business acumen to doing what he could to help Richard Petty Motorsports get back to the top of the NASCAR world.
“Andy has been great for our race team,” said Aric Almirola who drives the No. 43 car for RPM. “Andy is a really smart guy and he’s been a great financial resource for the race team. He thinks outside the box on a lot of different things. He asks questions to stimulate conversation and ideas.”
But as much as Almirola appreciates what Murstein brings to the table, he too often wonders how that kid from suburban New York that went on a quest to own a professional sports franchise wound up writing a check, not for a baseball team, football team, hockey team or basketball team, but for a NASCAR team.
There was a time when not many, if any, New Yorkers even followed NASCAR, but Murstein jumped in head first and that passion brings a smile to Almirola’s face.
“I sometimes kid with him and ask him what the hell he’s doing,” said Almirola who finished fourth at the Daytona 500 earlier this season. “That’s what I love about Andy is that he’s not conventional. He makes people think. I do sometimes joke with him and ask him how a guy from Long Island ends up owning a race team with Richard Petty?”
It’s a good question but Murstein, who also owns the New York Lizards of Major League Lacrosse, is certainly enjoying life as a NASCAR team owner. He has many photos of his first victory as owner of RPM when Marcos Ambrose took the checkered flag at Watkins Glen in 2012. Murstein also experienced the thrill of victory with the Lizards who won the 2015 MLL title and it’s a feeling he’d like to get used to.
“It’s wonderful,” said Murstein. “As stated earlier, I love winning and hate, hate, hate to lose at anything.”
Andrew Murstein has been a tremendous success in the business world and he has enjoyed that winning feeling with Richard Petty Motorsports as well as in lacrosse with the Lizards. His goal is to bring RPM back to prominence in NASCAR and when you consider his passion and will to win, there’s no reason to doubt that he’ll pull it off.
Not bad for a kid from Long Island who once knew nothing about NASCAR!