Is that why you sponsor a local dirt track program in your hometown of Rand, West Virginia, and serve as a goodwill ambassador for the Urban Youth Racing School?
Yes. One of my approaches is to show minorities that there are all kinds of jobs in the motor sports industry (engineering, manufacturing, accounting, finance, and marketing). It takes a lot of people and a lot of time and effort in the day-to-day operations for a driver to be able to compete. It’s eye-opening to go to the Urban Youth Racing School or NASCAR events and see these kids loving the sport. You can probably meet a 7- or 8- year-old who can tell you everything you want to know about a car. A lot of people don’t give that school enough credit. The program has taken these kids out of tough environments and put them where they are succeeding, thriving, and enjoying life.
You’ve already had some experience as a businessman with your fruit juice/smoothie franchise, Inta Juice, but was it harder to prepare for your role as a NASCAR owner? What has the transition from football player to entrepreneur been like?
It’s been a nice experience getting into another professional sport, but there was a concern about transitioning into auto racing. I didn’t know how I was going to be perceived. People are used to seeing me in another sport, and I had to make this transition and leave football completely out of the picture. It was hard. At the beginning getting corporate sponsorship was also a challenge because they didn’t know if I was serious about it. It’s smoothing out now. Our sponsorship notoriety and publicity have picked up. But it’s taking a lot of traveling, talking on the phone, meeting with sponsors, and meeting with my team. I don’t know everything there is to know about a car. I’m learning as we go.
What else do you have in the works?
I’m coming out with an athletic water. You have these vitamin waters that athletes promote, but you only know the athletes by the commercial and not by the bottle. So I think it’s important to put the athlete on the bottle. Now the consumer gets the best of both worlds. After you finish the water, you have a collector’s item. I thought it was just a nice way to give the fans a little more.