NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Although NASCAR teams (nearly all of which are based in Charlotte, North Carolina) traditionally don’t have regional fan bases, Trackhouse Racing has essentially adopted Music City as its home.
Although only three of its 130 employees live in Nashville, Trackhouse still has a significant presence there. Tootsies, one of the ubiquitous bars that make up Lower Broadway’s neon-drenched “Nashvegas” scene, is a team sponsor. Team co-owner Justin Marks and president Ty Norris form the Nashville-based think tank that has made Trackhouse the biggest story of the 2022 season, as drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez qualified for the playoffs with breakthrough wins in the Cup Series.
However, the team has scaled back from its original vision of having roots in Tennessee.
After buying the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing last year, it became clear that Trackhouse might not become the first major Cup team based outside the Charlotte area since Furniture Row Racing (which won the 2017 championship from its shop). in Denver, Colorado).
In addition to Ganassi’s two charter contracts, Trackhouse also took over a 140,000-square-foot store adjacent to the Concord, North Carolina airport, and more than 100 people with homes in North Carolina.
“Nashville is very important to Trackhouse,” Marks told NBC Sports in an interview (conducted on Tootsies) that aired during Sunday’s NASCAR pre-race show on NBC. “We run our business from Nashville. But everyone else is in Charlotte because we have to put cars on the track. The idea in the early days was to acquire a charter, build a team from scratch here in Nashville. We put out an all-points bulletin for the sport that said, ‘We’ll pay for your moves, we’ll build a store in Nashville, we’ll build a NASCAR team.
“That’s actually what I really wanted to do. Well, things changed when Chip Ganassi and I had this conversation about the acquisition.”
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) June 27, 2022
There’s no arguing about Trackhouse’s success this season, as Chastain in particular has exhibited championship-caliber consistency while racing against stalwarts like Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske.
But even if its results had been sub-sterling, Trackhouse would have been hard-pressed to relocate, especially with Chevrolet opening a new technical center in the Charlotte area this season.
“You can’t take a company that exists and move it very easily, especially in our sport,” Marks said. “A lot of the fact that we had a huge commitment from Chevrolet. We are essential partners. It just became obvious to us that the actual racing operations had to stay in Charlotte, but we’re also building a brand and we’ve got a lot of really exciting things coming up, from a branding and marketing standpoint that we’re working on right. . now that they’re essentially going to be based in Nashville.
“So my hope is that Trackhouse will become a bigger and better Cup Series team based in Charlotte, but those bigger things will go without Nashville.”
Trackhouse is in its second year after being formed last year by entertainer Pit Bull and Marks.
“I grew up in an entrepreneurial home,” Marks said. “My father started businesses. That was always something that fascinated me. But my heroes were always racing drivers, so he wanted to drive.”
After pursuing a racing career (which included an Xfinity Series win at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2016), Marks went on to become a racing businessman. After opening the GoPro Motorplex go-kart track in Mooresville, North Carolina, and owning a minor league NASCAR team, Marks decided to make the move to a Cup team after learning the details of Next Gen.
“NASCAR announced that they were bringing this new car, and all of a sudden I saw an opportunity to compete in Cup in a way that we could be successful and build a brand,” Marks said. “The barriers to entry had been lowered a bit. I went and flew to Daytona with Ty Norris, met Jim France and said, ‘Is this car real? How are you going to officiate? What is the vision for it?’
“I walked out of that meeting and (said) my driving days were over. It’s all about Trackhouse now.”
Marks, Chastain and Suarez sat down at Tootsies last week with NASCAR on NBC’s Marty Snider for the interview. during the pre-race show at Peacock for Sunday’s Nashville Superspeedway event.