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Simpson Race Case

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Sampson Racing Case
Organizational Leadership – Fall 2011
John Perron

I really tried to think about the Framing of this scenario as I also went through the numbers. One unique perspective that I had is that as a young man I used to race motorcycles. While I understand the basic costs and the elements of racing that are presented here, I was surprised that there was never any concern for the driver’s safety in this scenario. It should be the number one concern when making a decision to race or not race. It was not even an element presented in the framing of this decision-making exercise.

That being said, I included that in my analysis. I took the approach of listing the facts that the scenario presented and tried to look at the cost of racing versus not racing in the same way as I would look at any scenario where lives are also at stake as in going to the moon, or having brain surgery. Certainly at racings speeds, lives are at stake.
How much is a driver’s life worth? There are no guarantees in this scenario for $1,000,000+….it only says Goodstone is considering it. Is a driver’s life worth more or less than $1,000,000?

The current financial state of the team is $32,500 in the hole.
There are 4 possible outcomes in this scenario:

1) Sampson Team decides to race and finishes in the Top 5 50% Chance. Result: There were no definite numbers, but let’s guess and say that the new annual sponsorship is worth $1,000,000+.

2) Sampson Team decides to race and blows an engine 29.17% chance. Result: Loss of the $500,000 Oil Sponsorship plus $20,000 for the cost of an engine, for a total loss of $520,000, thereby moving the team to $552,500 in the hole. Also to be considered is that any time an engine blows in a race the driver is in danger. Losing a driver is the ultimate cost

3) Sampson Team decides not to race and moves from $32,500 in the hole to $50,000 in the hole, but keeps the $500,000 oil sponsorship and maintains the safety of the driver until a time when the mechanical crew can gain a better understanding of the nature of the intermittent engine problems and solve those.

4) Sampson Team decides to race and finishes out of the Top 5, or does not finish for a reason other than a blown engine. 20.83% chance.
Result: Sampson team does not have to give back $25,000 of the $40,000 sponsorship money for this race and maintains the $500,000 Oil Sponsorship. However, there is an 8.33% chance of some sort of mechanical failure, which puts the driver in danger. Again, how much is a driver’s life worth?

So the question is “Should Sampson Team Race or not Race?”

My conclusion is Sampson Team should NOT RACE. Here are the reasons why:

1) Based upon the framed scenario, Sampson Team really has no conclusive understanding as to why the periodic engine failures occur. Everybody is guessing, and their judgement may be clouded by the team’s sponsorship opportunities. This is a really bad scenario waiting to happen in auto racing. A driver’s life is a risk, not just the car or the sponsorships. 2) Historically we have a 29.17% chance of engine failure and an 8.33% chance of other failures. These failures put the driver at serious risk. When added together that’s 37.5% chance of some sort of failure happening, putting the driver in danger. That number needs to be much smaller, regardless of the good finishes they have had historically. So while history says Sampson team might have a 50% chance of winning a sponsorship worth MAYBE $1,000,000+, we also have a 37.5% chance that something really bad could happen in terms of the driver’s safety. 3) Data shows the team had significant number of failures at low temperatures.. And regardless of the trend of the data and the fact that some failure happened at higher temperatures, we have no racing data for the engine operating at 40 degrees. This may increase the chances of engine failures., we have no way to know, and that is not good in terms of driver safety. 4) In all, there are too many unknowns putting the driver at risk. Being $50,000 in the hole is a way better scenario than losing the life of a driver. Consider Indy 500 Champion Dan Whelden’s case recently in Las Vegas. Many of the drivers knew the teams were pushing it to drive on that track at those speeds. It was all about the thrill of racing until a driver was killed. Racing is a business, but money is not the only thing at risk in the racing business. 5) By not racing the team goes $50,000 in the hole but retains the critical $500,000 Oil Sponsorship perhaps helping them buy some time to get their engine woes figured out.

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