NASCAR CUP SERIES TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT JUNE 30, 2021
Justin Marks, Founder, Trackhouse Entertainment Group; Chip Ganassi, CEO Chip Ganassi Racing; Ty Norris, President, Trackhouse Racing – Press Conference Transcript: NOTE: On June 30, 2021, Justin Marks, Founder of Trackhouse Entertainment Group, announced the purchase of Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operation. The transfer of all CGR NASCAR assets to Trackhouse Racing will take place following the NASCAR Cup Series final race of the 2021 season on November 7, 2021. Trackhouse Racing will field two full-time NASCAR Cup Series entries in 2022. Daniel Suarez, driver of the Trackhouse Racing No. 99 Chevrolet, will continue with the organization, with the second driver to be named at a later date.
PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you so much for taking your time out today. My name is Ty Norris. I’m the president of Trackhouse Racing. We know we pulled this together very late, so thank you so much for the time to come out here and hear what we have to say. Pretty landmark day for Trackhouse Racing. We’d like to welcome the viewers watching on NASCAR.com‘s live stream. Also, to the listeners who are listening live on Sirius XM radio. As you see up here with me, I have the CEO of Chip Ganassi Racing, Chip Ganassi, and the founder and co‑owner of Trackhouse Racing, Justin Marks. Our friend Pitbull is in Miami and he sends his regards. We would have loved to have him here. He brings some energy. We are proud to announce that Trackhouse Entertainment Group and Trackhouse Racing has purchased the NASCAR operation of Chip Ganassi Racing. Trackhouse has acquired all of the NASCAR assets of Ganassi Racing, including all equipment and its two charters. Trackhouse will take ownership of the assets at the conclusion of the 2021 racing season. Daniel Suárez, who is a current driver for Trackhouse Racing in the No. 99 Chevrolet, will continue as one of our drivers, and we will be discussing a second driver at a later date, which is a confirmation that Trackhouse Racing will be fielding two full‑time NASCAR Cup Series entries starting in 2022 and moving deep into the future. All financial terms ‑‑ no financial terms will be discussed. It is a private business transaction. So appreciate all the questions that may be coming about that, but these will not be addressed today. I want to turn it over first to Mr. Ganassi for his comments. CHIP GANASSI: Thanks, Ty. Good morning. It’s nice to see all of you here. I must say our team was not for sale. Justin simply came to me with a great offer and even a better vision for racing. There’s a lot of new blood in NASCAR, as you’ve heard or read of recent, people like Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, the Spire people, Kaulig Racing, a lot of new blood, and they all seem to be bringing a new perspective, and more importantly a new vision. The sport I think needs people with vision, and today NASCAR continues to build on its successes and by most accounts continues to grow. There’s much to be excited about, I think, if you’re involved in NASCAR. I actually owe a lot of thanks to some of the NASCAR leadership because I’ve felt they’ve been some of my greatest mentors, people like Jim France and Bill France Jr., Mike Helton and some of these people have become even better friends of mine over the years. If I was trying to sell my team, I would have talked to everybody that was looking for a charter or looking for a team or looking to get involved in the sport. I did not. I talked to one person, and that’s this guy right here. I didn’t talk to anybody else. I want you to know I’m still dedicated to motorsports and the sport of auto racing. In my opinion it’s the greatest sport in the world, and it still seems to be on an upward trajectory. We will still be involved ‑‑ I’m not getting out of racing. I still have three other teams in the INDYCAR series, IMSA, sports cars and Extreme E. So our days by no means are getting out of racing. I wish Justin well in this business. I’m here to help him at any time. With that, I want to turn it over to Justin Marks. Thank you. JUSTIN MARKS: All right, big day. I want to thank the media that showed up, everybody tuning in. I want to thank NASCAR for their help in putting all this together and all the fans that are tuning in right now, some here in person and others over the internet. I want to thank Chip, his executive team in working with professionalism and candor and diligence through this whole process, which has happened pretty quickly, but it’s been the honor of my professional career to work with them through this process. This is obviously a great day for Trackhouse, but we’re going to be in the news for a long time to come. We’re going to be able to talk about races and sponsors, we’re going to be able to talk about drivers and everything for years and years and hopefully decades to come. I think today is about honoring the legacy and the contributions that Chip has made to NASCAR over the last 20 years. Over 1,300 Cup races, won every marquee event in the sport, helped launch the careers, stock car careers of drivers like Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ross Chastain, a number of others, and they’ve executed numerous groundbreaking partnership programs, companies like Havoline, Target, Bass Pro Shops, Miller Coors, McDonald’s and more, and all that hard work and legacy, everything that has been built at CGR over the past two decades, that will serve as the foundation for the Trackhouse vision moving forward. I can’t think of anybody better than Chip to go through that process. CGR has been a big part of my life and a big part of my career. I remember standing on the hill ‑‑ and I’ve told Chip all this so it’s a little redundant, but I remember standing on the hill at Laguna Seca at the INDYCAR race in 1996 with my father watching Alex Zanardi make that amazing pass in the corkscrew to win on a day when Jimmy Vasser won the INDYCAR championship. I remember being in my college weight room with my best friend doing a workout watching Jamie McMurray win at Charlotte in his second ever start. When I started racing myself for BMW in the Rolex Sports Car Series every weekend, I watched Chip’s prototypes win races, win championships. One of my best friends in racing that I’ve ever met, Joey Hand, I watched him race for Chip and reach the pinnacle of his career, winning in the Ford GT at Le Mans, and the highlight of my personal driving career was winning my Xfinity Series race at Mid‑Ohio in 2016 in Chip’s No. 42 car. Being at this moment right now, it truly does just feel like another part of a great motorsports story. There’s lots of work to do for us at Trackhouse, but there’s also a lot of enthusiasm to do that work. I want to thank, again, everybody that helped make this come together on this project. I want to congratulate Chip on the indelible mark that you’ve made in the sport. TY NORRIS: I’m glad you clapped. I was hoping somebody would. That was great. We’re going to open it up to questions now to some of the members of the media who are here.
Q&A’s:Q. Chip, I’m sure this was a heartfelt decision for you; even though you have lots of racing, you are all about racing all the time. What was the difficult part of this and what was the part that just made perfect sense? You alluded to it a little bit, but go to the heart of it if you would.
CHIP GANASSI: Well, like I said, the team wasn’t for sale. Justin called me up one day, and I think I probably turned him off after the first phone call or something; I said leave me alone or something. You know, I just ‑‑ he came back with an offer that required my attention, I guess, and so I think I had to take a look at it. Like I said, I didn’t talk to anybody else. I didn’t call anybody else. I didn’t call anybody. It just came together very fast. It was very easy. Obviously as you know we’ve worked with Justin in the past, and it seemed like a good fit, and his vision for going forward seemed to match ours, I think whether it was watching out for the current employees or just what he wanted to do in racing going forward. Like I said, there’s a lot of new blood coming into the sport right now, and it’s time for someone else to take over. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, going every weekend, every weekend, every weekend for 20 years. This will give me an opportunity to turn the RPM down a little bit and take a look at it from another perspective and help make this ‑‑ help Justin with his vision. Q. Was there a part of this that was hard? CHIP GANASSI: Well, it’s somewhat bittersweet when you look back on 20 years of your life of something you’ve been doing, but it’s time for new blood and time for a change. I’ve always accepted change with a positive attitude. Q. When did Justin come to you? CHIP GANASSI: Less than a month ago. Yeah, I would say ‑‑ it seems to be less than a month ago. JUSTIN MARKS: I think it was about two months but it went fast. Q. What was it about this offer? Was it the financial component? Was it not interested in continuing as a NASCAR owner that made this an intriguing proposition for you?
CHIP GANASSI: No, I don’t think the financial component was nearly as important as just his vision about where he wanted to go, what he wanted to do, how he wanted to handle it, how he wanted to do a deal or how ‑‑ just basically the way he wanted to do it I think was maybe more compelling than the financial component. Q. Justin, you’ve talked about wanting to get more charters, those kind of things. We know the cost of those is going up. Did it reach a point where you look at what the cost of a charter was and you said, wait a second, why don’t I maybe shift gears and look at an existing team instead if I’m going to spend the money?
JUSTIN MARKS: Look, this is so much more than a charter acquisition, this is an investment in an entire enterprise. For Trackhouse, it was always the vision of Trackhouse to go through this process of establishing itself in the sport in a responsible way. That’s why this year we’re working with RCR the way that we’re working and being very intelligent about our capital outlay and about the investments that we make, and this was an opportunity to be able to make an investment in something that can be a foundation for decades to come. Multiple car teams, Chip has amassed a great set of assets at that shop that can be applied to the Next‑Gen car in a way that we can start doing more and more on our own at Trackhouse, and there’s a lot of processes and IP and things in place over there that have been developed for a long time that are going to be really, really valuable to us. So it’s a very sort of wholistic deal. It’s just kind of looking at everything and asking ourselves, what is Trackhouse’s best move that we can make to set up intelligently and responsibly for the future, and this was it. Q. Just kind of curious, Justin, will you continue to have a satellite in Charlotte and the main deal in Nashville, and do you plan on using the current Chip Ganassi Racing place in Concord for your base?
JUSTIN MARKS: The Trackhouse Entertainment Group, which is the parent company of our race team, is based and always will be based in Nashville. We’ve had discussions about having race operations based out of there would look like. There’s no plans in place at the moment to do that. I think there’s a lot of really valuable infrastructure that’s been built in Concord at Chip’s building that we want to take advantage of it, so the plan right now is to operate out of that building in 2022, and we’ll start looking to the future after that. Q. How frustrating was it just the struggles that your two cars have gone through the last couple of years where you’ve been extremely more successful on the INDYCAR and IMSA side, and then there’s always been NASCAR, and you’ve just never really reached that level of success that you’ve enjoyed in the other –
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I don’t know that I would characterize it as a struggle. I mean, it’s just the normal ins and outs of racing, whether it was pandemic driven or driver issues or sponsor issues, so sort of the stuff that goes along with the sport that you get. Hey, I think we did well. We’ve been in the playoffs every year, and once you get in the playoffs, it’s a jump ball, so I’m very proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished. Q. Justin, it was a year ago you started Trackhouse. Was getting involved with an established team ‑‑ how did you formulate that? Was it suddenly or was this your long‑term plan all along? JUSTIN MARKS: Well, that’s an interesting question. I mean, it definitely happened ‑‑ we got to this point quicker than I thought we would be. We’re 19 races into Trackhouse’s history, and this is obviously a monumental moment already for the company. It’s happened very quickly, but I think that a transaction like this or getting to this kind of moment was certainly probably always in the plan, and when you’re talking about ‑‑ obviously to solidify your future in the sport, the charter is an important thing. When Ty and I were constantly auditing the charter landscape, the conversation started going, is there something bigger or something more meaningful to look at out there. Let’s not lose sight of our plank a little bit and just take a bigger look at the entire industry, and in those conversations I just immediately went to Chip. I’ve raced for him, obviously, for a number of years. I know a lot of the great people there, and I just ‑‑ he was the first person I could call to have a conversation with.I think our first conversation went great. So, I guess it was a very pleasurable experience, but to answer your question, it’s a big moment very quickly in the life of Trackhouse, but I build companies to try to do great things. Q. Chip, how will you spend your spare time now?
CHIP GANASSI: Well, it’ll give us an opportunity to focus on our other racing operations in IMSA and INDYCARs and Extreme E, so I don’t have many weekends off still. Not too many. Q. Justin, a question for you. Trackhouse tweeted out a picture with you, Pitbull, Tony Robbins before this announcement. Has there been a recent infusion of new ownership interest or investment to make this possible? JUSTIN MARKS: There hasn’t. Tony came to visit us in Charlotte. Armando has obviously a big network of people, and as he’s gotten to learn more and more about NASCAR and he’s become more and more involved in our team, he’s kind of spreading that message in his network. Him and Tony are close, and Tony came to visit us in Charlotte. I think Tony wants to get involved at some level, but this is not the result of any new equity infusion or new ownership or anything like that. We will continue on our trajectory on that ownership and marketing and business development side like we have and then obviously on the competition side this just gives us a lot of support and a lot of big foundation for the future. Q. Was there any alternative ‑‑ in terms of acquiring a charter in any other way besides basically doing this deal? JUSTIN MARKS: No. No. I mean, I made the decision to pursue this with Chip, and if it didn’t get to a place that worked for both of us, then at that point I was just going to pivot and see what else is out there, but I was all in on this from day one. It was the only thing I was focused on. Every time we talked we had great conversations. I felt like momentum pushed forward, and there wasn’t really any point during this process where I thought I was going to need a backup plan or anything like that. Q. You’ve spoken of Chip in glowing terms and how much respect you have for him and all he’s meant to you. Is there a sense of pressure that you’re carrying on his legacy now with this and trying to build upon the foundation that he has laid down and try to, for lack of a better description, make Chip proud of what you’re going to do forward? JUSTIN MARKS: Yeah, I think some people, pressure can also be thought of as opportunity, and I think that’s kind of how I view it personally. There is a legacy there, but that’s a tremendous opportunity for Trackhouse. That’s a tremendous opportunity for the future, and so I welcome that pressure. I welcome those expectations. We’re in the business of putting great people together and letting them do their jobs to achieve great things. That’s not going to change.I think at any point ‑‑ when you get to this level of this business, there’s going to be a lot of pressure involved in anything that you do, but you have to be willing to look yourself in the mirror and charge full ahead into that, and we at Trackhouse are. Q. Justin, Daniel really seems to have grasped what you guys are doing, both on and off the track. What kind of driver do you think will accentuate his gifts and help make Trackhouse stronger as a whole?
JUSTIN MARKS: That’s a great question, and that’s an exercise that we have to go through. We have kept this very, very quiet through this process with respect to Chip and with respect to everybody that’s working at both organizations to try to limit any kind of distractions or anything through this process. As we start thinking about what the future looks like, that question will be one of the first ones we have to ask ourselves and we have to go through that process.At this point this whole process has been about getting to this moment and this announcement, and like I said earlier, that’s just one element of a lot of work ahead of us this summer. Do I have a short list? I do have a short list, yeah. TY NORRIS: No driver list is ever long. It’s always short. Q. Chip, what do you take away from NASCAR right now? What did you feel as being a part of NASCAR? And what is the situation for owners in NASCAR right now? What advice would you have for Justin Marks? You’ve been doing this a long time, been successful. What’s the state of the affair, do you know?
CHIP GANASSI: Yeah, I think it’s an on uptick. I look at my 20 years and I say, hey, I’m 63 years old; what am I going to do? Am I going to do this for 10 more years or something? I just think ‑‑ we seem to be in a period of time here where there’s some movement going on and some new fresh young blood coming in, and like I said, our team wasn’t for sale, I wasn’t planning on selling it. Quite frankly no one ever offered to buy it in 20 years, so I was just ‑‑ I thought it was something I should listen to. I think it’s an on uptick. I have a lot of friends in NASCAR, a lot of friends in the garage area, I’ve got a lot of friends in management at NASCAR, and I’m not going away from racing. I’ll be around. TY NORRIS: Just a couple comments sort of off the list here, but when we started all this, I owe a personal thank you from Justin and myself to TJ Puchyr and the guys at Spire for helping us land the charter to be able to race this year. That was a very important moment for us. And Richard Childress Racing and Andy Petree and Dr. Eric Warren when he was at RCR, they were first believers in us. Those people were very, very important to get us here, as is Daniel and some of the sponsors that came on board with us with CommScope, with Coca‑Cola, Freeway Insurance, Camping World and the iFLY Group. Those were all early believers in what we were doing and the process through coming into the sport, the way NASCAR has approached it with us, from Mr. France all the way through the system, has been remarkable. This is my 30th year in the sport. I’ve never seen it better. I’ve never seen them communicate better. I’m very proud to be a part of this organization going forward. We do want to send a sincere apology to some of the media folks who had other commitments today. We just could not, out of respect for the partners and the employees and all the businesses, we had to keep this under wraps until today for that reason we will make Justin and Chip available for Zoom calls.
NASCAR CUP SERIES TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT JUNE 30, 2021