NASHVILLE, Tennessee — Although NASCAR teams (nearly all of which are headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina) traditionally don’t have regional fanbases, Trackhouse Racing has essentially adopted Music City as their home.
Although only three of its 130 employees live in Nashville, Trackhouse still has a strong presence there. Tootsies, one of the ubiquitous bars that make up the neon-drenched “Nashvegas” scene on Lower Broadway, is a team sponsor. Team co-owner Justin Marks and chairman Ty Norris form the Nashville-based braintrust that made Trackhouse the biggest story of the 2022 season as drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez qualified for the playoffs with decisive victories in the Cup Series.
Still, the team has scaled back its original vision to have roots in Tennessee.
After purchasing the assets of Chip Ganassi Racing last year, it became apparent that Trackhouse would not be in a position to become the first major Cup team based outside the Charlotte area since Furniture Row Racing (which won the 2017 championship from its store in Denver, Colorado).
In addition to Ganassi’s two charters, Trackhouse has also taken ownership of a 140,000 square foot store adjacent to the airport in Concord, North Carolina and over 100 people with homes in North Carolina.
“Nashville is very important to Trackhouse,” Marks told NBC Sports in an interview (held at Tootsies) that took place during Sunday’s NASCAR on the NBC pre-race show. “We run our business out of Nashville. But everyone is in Charlotte because you have to put cars on the circuit. The idea in the early days was to acquire a charter, to build a team from the ground up here in Nashville. We put out an all-points bulletin for the sport saying, “We’ll pay for your moves, build a store in Nashville, build a NASCAR team.
“That’s actually what I really wanted to do. Well, things changed when Chip Ganassi and I had this acquisition conversation.
—NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) June 27, 2022
There’s no doubting Trackhouse’s success this season, as Chastain in particular has shown championship-caliber consistency while taking on stalwarts such as Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske.
But even if its results had been lower than the pound, Trackhouse would have struggled to relocate, especially with Chevrolet opening a new technical center in the Charlotte area this season.
“You can’t take a business that’s there and move it around very easily, especially in our sport,” Marks said. “A lot of the fact that we had a huge commitment from Chevrolet. We’re fundamental partners. It became clear to us that the actual racing operations needed to stay in Charlotte, but we’re also building a brand and have a lot of things really exciting in the pipeline, from a brand and marketing standpoint that we’re working on properly, now it’s going to be basically Nashville-based.
“So hopefully Trackhouse will become a bigger and better Cup Series team based in Charlotte, but those bigger things will be run out of Nashville.”
Trackhouse is in its second year after being formed last year by artist Pit Bull and Marks.
“I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs,” Marks said. “My father started businesses. It’s always been something that fascinated me. But my heroes have always been race car drivers, so I wanted to drive.
After pursuing a racing career (which included an Xfinity Series victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2016), Marks became a racing businessman. After opening the GoPro Motorplex kart track in Mooresville, North Carolina, and owning a minor league NASCAR team, Marks decided to go for a Cup team after learning the details from Next Gen.
“NASCAR announced that they were bringing this new car, and all of a sudden I saw an opportunity to compete in Cup racing in a way that would allow us to be successful and build a brand,” Marks said. . “The barriers to entry had come down a bit. I went on the plane to Daytona with Ty Norris, I met Jim France and I said, ‘Is this car real? How are you officer? What is the vision for this?
“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 on Peacock for Sunday’s Nashville Superspeedway event.