Driver’s ed on the company dime…

April 10, 2006

aaroncar.jpgAs with many professional sports, making it to the top of the professional racing circuit can take years of hard work and plenty of near-death experiences. Michael Waltrip, pictured here with his car, is one of the success stories. Now Waltrip’s company is helping two sons of Aaron’s Rent (RNT) executive Bill Butler train to become race car drivers courtesy of the company. In the proxy that the company filed on Friday, the company noted that Aaron’s is sponsoring Waltrip’s "driver development program" and that the two drivers participating in the program in 2005 are Butler’s sons. But here’s the real kicker: Aaron’s estimates that it paid $890K last year to train Butler’s sons and will spend nearly $1 million this year on the program.

So what exactly are the Butler boys — known as KBIII and Brett — learning for this money? This article that was sent out to Aaron’s franchisees details the program:

During the work week, KBIII and Brett learn about the cars they race and how to build them, repair them and make them perform faster. They train their bodies for the rigors of racing. They learn strategies for winning races. Then, come the weekend, they put it all to the test.

We’re guessing that since dad — Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership President Bill Butler — only made $425K last year, paying twice that amount to teach your sons to be professional drivers was probably out of the question. But getting the company that you work for to pay for that training and counting it as a marketing expense, seems like a very creative use of accounting rules.

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