Justin Marks starting Cup team, targeting 2021 debut

Justin Marks, who last raced in NASCAR in 2018, is coming back as a team owner. On Friday, Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal reported the former driver has formed Trackhouse, a team that is hoping to début in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.

A sports car veteran, Marks was a NASCAR road ringer from 2013 to 2018, winning in the Xfinity Series at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2016. His final start was a twenty-seventh-place finish in the Cup Series’ inaugural race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. He has seven top tens and a victory in thirty-five career Xfinity starts, six career Cup races with a best run of twelfth in the 2018 Daytona 500, and four top tens in thirty-eight Truck Series runs.

Outside of the cockpit, Marks has established himself as an entrepreneur, much like his father Michael who has served as a GoPro board member, a minority owner in the Golden State Warriors NBA team, the interim CEO of Tesla Motors, and an executive in Crocs (which sponsored his son’s Truck endeavours in 2008). Justin currently owns the GoPro Motorplex karting facility in North Carolina with fellow NASCAR veteran Michael McDowell.

According to the SBJ report, Marks had placed a bid for the shuttering Cup team Leavine Family Racing, but lost to Spire Motorsports. Incidentally, former Spire executive Ty Norris, who was the general manager of the defunct Michael Waltrip Racing, is working with Marks in the Trackhouse project.

Trackhouse is not Marks’ first foray into team ownership. In 2015, he partnered with Cup team owner Harry Scott to run HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks in what is now the ARCA Menards Series East; although the team closed after 2016, among its drivers were current Cup racer William Byron and Xfinity championship contenders Justin Haley and Harrison Burton. Marks also ran the dirt track racing team Larson Marks Racing with former NASCAR star Kyle Larson from 2013 to 2017.

As elaborated upon by Stern, Marks intends to base Trackhouse around a program to support STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and “America’s minorities and underrepresented youth population”. In particular, the team will form a “mobile experimental STEM program” that can travel across the United States to increase interest in that field. Fifty percent of the budget will by funded by investment capital, while to-be-announced sponsorship and other partners will cover the rest.

“A core component of this business plan is to create an opportunity for us to give back to the youth in America that need an opportunity to succeed,” Marks tweeted. “This sport creates the perfect formula for taking STEM into the communities and creating positive change.”

The team intends to kick off in the 2021 season, a year before the Next Gen car is introduced to the Cup Series. The seventh-generation car is expected to reduce costs for teams with certain parts being mass produced by single manufacturers rather than relying on hiring separate employees.

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