In early 2016 it was announced that the NASCAR Cup Series would begin using Charters as a way to lock in ownership of a Cup Series team. Under the Charter there would be 36 “locked in” teams for each event during the course of the year. This will allowed for longer planning cycles around competition, innovation, digital marketing, governance and research and development, according to NASCAR.
The move was similar to other sports models where teams are guaranteed to participate and should an owner need to get out, they can then sell their Charter and receive at least some return in investment. In the past, as the teams and drivers operate like independent contractors, if a team folded, they simply sold their assets for pennies on the dollars.
It’s no surprise that this concept was spearheaded by Rob Kauffman, a man who held a 50% in Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR). Entering the 2016 season, MWR folded, but the rules that set up the initial Charters allowed MWR to have two Charters they could then sell, thus allowing Kauffman and his partner Michael Waltrip to get some return on their team.
A Charter is not a full guarantee, as a Charter can be lost if a car is not fielded for a race or if the Charter team finishes in the bottom three of the owner standings for all 36 Charter teams for three consecutive years.
A game some teams play is the fact they can lease their Charter once during the first five years of the agreement. And if they desire, they can outright sell their Charter at anytime.
Below is links to each year, who has the Charters, and notes about those Charters.