Veteran race team owner Chip Ganassi has announced he is selling the NASCAR portion of his organization to Trackhouse Entertainment Group. Trackhouse Racing, a division of Trackhouse Entertainment Group, is co-owned by former driver (in multiple racing series Justin Marks) and musical artist Pitbull.
Ganassi will retain full control of his INDYCAR and IMSA teams. At the conclusion of the 2021 NASCAR season, Trackhouse will assume full control of Ganassi’s NASCAR operation, which this season is fielding two cars driven by former NASCAR Cup champion Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain respectively. Trackhouse has announced that it will have Daniel Suárez, currently driving for Trackhouse’s one-car NASCAR Cup series team, in one of the two cars it will run in 2022. The driver of the second car has yet to be determined.
The move makes sense for both team owners. Ganassi, 63, started his racing career in the open-wheel field, and has enjoyed massive success in every league (twenty championships) but has never won a title in NASCAR. Focusing on his strengths can only be beneficial to the organization. For Trackhouse’s part, the purchase brings with it both of Ganassi’s charters, which in plain English means both cars Trackhouse fields are guaranteed a starting spot in every race regardless of how they qualify. This is not presently the case, as Suárez has to qualify for every race. It also brings in a wealth of experienced team and shop personnel.
Inside racing talk aside, what is refreshing about such news is how it represents genuine diversity. Far too often, diversity is spelled g-i-m-m-i-e, with those who have not earned that which they seek crying foul, discrimination, and what have you. Pitbull is taking the money he earns as an entertainer and turning it into worthwhile investments, in this instance also bringing in new fans to NASCAR via his presence. He and Marks are savvy enough to employ Mexican native Suárez, a competent driver who has won before, as a linchpin for the organization’s public outreach, on the technical side partnering with an existing team and now taking the next step by folding in an existing team. It is very close to the same blueprint 23XI Racing has followed, with high-profile co-ownership in the presence of Michael Jordan, racing experienced co-ownership via Denny Hamlin, reaching out to a mostly untapped potential fan base by hiring Bubba Wallace Jr. as the driver, and closely partnering with existing teams and manufacturers to ensure at least presentable cars. (Side note: before anyone starts whining about the Talladega phantom noose incident, please be reminded that Wallace has won at Martinsville. You win there, and regardless of what series you’re driving you are a true wheelman.)
NASCAR, where it counts — that would be on the track — is colorblind. Neither the steering wheel nor the pedals nor the tools and parts used by the pit crew nor anything else involved with putting a race car in the competition care what color skin is guiding the process. Other sports insist they are for everyone. NASCAR truly is for everyone, provided you have the business wherewithal to cover the checks you’ll need to cut in order to participate. By the way, those checks don’t care what color hand is holding the pen doing the signing, and those oversized checks drivers love holding aloft in Victory Lane don’t care what color hands are doing the holding. NASCAR rewards capitalism and effort. In a world give woke-mad where everyone is crying for a participation prize, NASCAR says if you’ve got the money to invest and the tenacity to stick it out, rewards can be earned … but they must be earned. Nothing is handed to you.
It is amusingly ironic that in a world increasingly fractured by obsessing over race, NASCAR is leading the way in holding fast to Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that one day people will not be judged by the color of their skin but rather by the content of their character. In this case, adding how fast they can drive or how well they can build a race car.