By Jerry Jordan, Editor
Going into the 2023 Daytona 500, NASCAR updated rules and implemented new penalties on selling access to races, forbidding team members, representatives, etc. from selling access through what is called a Single Event License (SEL) aka VIP passes and warned that consequences would be severe for violators.
They weren’t joking around.
Tucked away at the bottom of the second page of this past week’s NASCAR Penalty Report and primarily overlooked due to the massive penalties against Hendrick Motorsports and the actions taken against Denny Hamlin after the comments on his podcast about wrecking Ross Chastain was the name, “Joshua Creech,” who was indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and fined $25,000.
It was a disciplinary action, which often involves physical altercations, multiple violations of NASCAR rules, being charged with a serious crime, etc. That was not the case for Creech, who was found to have violated Rule 4.3A and I and appears to be the first person penalized in 2023 for violating NASCAR Code of Conduct 4.4D – “Selling NASCAR Single Event Credentials (VIP Passes, Essential Worker Passes, etc.” The rule was distributed to media and NASCAR members as NASCAR Bulletin #2.
Creech is reported to have sold VIP credentials to a fan at Phoenix Raceway and when that fan went to obtain the passes from NASCAR their names were not on the official credential list. That kicked off an investigation, according to a NASCAR spokesperson, and the investigation led back to Creech, who NASCAR said was part of the Jeremy Clements Racing organization.
The spokesperson said the sanctioning body has been cracking down on the resale of VIP passes because, in multiple cases, a fan paid money for special access and then received nothing in return.
“Teams cannot sell VIP passes,” the NASCAR spokesperson said.
According to NASCAR, VIP passes are for sponsors and special guests and selling them is prohibited by anyone other than the sanctioning body. And this is not a new concept for NASCAR.
Previously called “Single Event Licenses,” the name was changed in recent years to “Single Event Credential” but the wording is almost exactly the same with the exception of the designation from “license” to “credential.”
The back of the original Single Event License, which included “HOT” passes, stated “A Single Event License (SEL) is not for resale, barter or trade. Only NASCAR may issue or sell an SEL. Any unauthorized sale, resale, barter or trade by any party may subject that party and/or the applicated listed on the front of this credential to criminal prosecution …”
The back of the new Single Event Credential, which includes VIP passes and ESSENTIAL passes, states, “A Single Event Credential (SEC) is not for resale, barter or trade. Only NASCAR may issue or sell an SEC. Any duplication, unauthorized sale, resale, barter or trade by any party may subject that party and/or the applicant listed on this credential to criminal prosecution …”
Security features on the old passes, which were made of paper, featured a unique number that NASCAR used to track it back to the individual, the organization and the team requesting it. A person’s name and affiliation were written on the front. The new VIP credential has the person’s name on the front and a unique identification number and but it also has a QR code with the information encoded into it.
Based on comments made by Creech in the Facebook group, “Racing Consignments,” which he is the administrator of, he was aware of the rules. On February 24, 2023, he wrote a post entitled, “Information regarding sponsorships.” A screenshot of the post was obtained from another member of the group after a Kickin’ the Tires representative was blocked from joining and attempting to seek a comment from Creech.
“NASCAR has deemed it illegal to do any for sale of passes, anyone who promotes the selling of a pass could be blacklisted from nascar and the team or teams associated with selling could also face severe punishment. If you own, manage, or endorse a company that is within the code of conduct for a partnership of a race team (no weed or tobacco companies) and would like to become a sponsor on a car that is separate from the ruling put out(.) Any sponsors must be able to provide a brief description of said company for nascar approval and present a graphic i.e. logo of said company to be displayed on the car (.)
“For races I attend this year if you do decide to sponsor a car through us I will personally assist you in tours, meet and greets, picture with the car, etc. Perks sponsors can receive by becoming a partner is supplying (sic) is not limited to or guaranteed is things such as passes, grid walks, meet and greets, swag bags, etc. We DO NOT CONDONE the outright selling of passes and will not entertain any proposals that resemble as such(.)”
Multiple attempts to contact Creech were unsuccessful. Additionally, a message sent to Jeremy Clements, as well as, an email sent to the person listed as a contact for the team were not answered.
Several fans contacted by Kickin’ the Tires, or who reached out earlier when the rule went into effect said they are concerned it will make it harder for diehard fans to get premium access to races. One fan confirmed they have purchased VIP passes from Creech in the past and had no trouble getting them.
“We were told the money was going to help the team,” said the fan, who asked to remain anonymous.
Another fan explained that they did not receive the passes they purchased but were able to get the money back from the person they paid. Still, others have not had the same luck. NASCAR officials are interested in speaking with individuals who may have paid for access but did not receive it. The going rate appears to be between $500 to $750 depending on the race and previous dealings the fan has with the person selling the pass.
The NASCAR spokesperson said the sanctioning body became aware that some people were trying to circumvent the rule by selling “sponsorships” and then not submitting that information for approval. In order to be a sponsor on a car, information must be submitted to NASCAR for approval.
“We found there were situations where this was happening and the process was not being followed,” the spokesperson said.