Will Scott Borchetta Become the Next Celebrity Owner in the NASCAR Cup Series?

Every time Kurt Busch does something notable this season, Michael Jordan’s name shows up in the first three paragraphs of the story. Every time Ross Chastain wins a race, Pitbull scores a mention even higher in the race recap.

The 23XI Racing and Trackhouse Racing teams have scored two victories apiece in their brief existence in the NASCAR Cup Series, generating returns on the investments made by Jordan and Pitbull. Given the low barriers to entry, it’s inevitable more celebrities will show interest in American racing’s biggest series.

The next one in could potentially be Scott Borchetta, who has a racing background and is cutting his teeth in the Xfinity Series.

NASCAR ownership is less complicated and expensive than the NFL or NBA

Scott Borchetta gives the command to start engines prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 5, 2020. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Scott Borchetta gives the command to start engines prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 5, 2020. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It doesn’t take much more than ambition and a checkbook to enter one of the three major NASCAR series, which sets racing apart from most leagues. Even a minority stake in an NFL or NBA team can cost $100 million and require vetting by the league.

The most imposing hurdle to making it in the NASCAR Cup Series is acquiring one of the 36 charters, but even that isn’t required. Michael Jordan and Pitbull went that route because they were committed to running full-time teams. But Floyd Mayweather Jr. hasn’t pursued a charter yet while testing the waters with The Money Team Racing’s limited schedule.

So, new owners can come aboard in the Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Camping World Truck Series simply by laying out enough money to purchase the necessary hardware, hire the staff, and cover operating expenses.

Nineteen teams run one or more trucks full-time on the Camping World circuit this season, and more than that field part-time teams. The ratio in the Xfinity Series skews toward more full-time teams, and Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Racing is one of the upstarts in it to win.

Moving from Taylor Swift’s music to the swift cars of NASCAR

Scott Borchetta is part of the one-thousandth of 1% of the population carrying the label of “mogul,” in this case in the music industry. He started the Big Machine Label Group in 2005 after two decades of working in the recording industry in Nashville.

Borchetta struck the mother lode with the first artist he signed: Taylor Swift. Barely a teenager at the time, she began releasing CDs in 2006 and building her fan base by touring to become one of the most successful musical acts of the century.

Though he remained as CEO, Borchetta sold Big Machine Records in 2019, indirectly setting off one of the biggest business disputes in the industry because the assets included Swift’s master recordings. While he’s remained active in the entertainment industry, Borchetta is immersed in racing. It was one of his loves while growing up in California and an activity he stayed close to while building his business.

He made the leap to NASCAR in 2021, forming Big Machine Racing Team and hiring Jade Buford to drive the No. 48 Chevy in the Xfinity Series.

Tyler Reddick took Scott Borchetta and Big Machine Racing to Victory Lane

As something more than a celebrity dabbling in racing as a hobby, Scott Borchetta has made connections in NASCAR. He struck a deal last fall on a strategic alliance with Richard Childress Racing to upgrade Big Machine Racing’s chassis and engineering operations while moving onto the RCR shop campus.

When Jade Buford, who is better on roads than ovals, wasn’t getting results this spring, Borchetta pulled him from the car after Martinsville. Using his RCR connection, Borchetta put Tyler Reddick in his car at Texas Motor Speedway on May 22, and the Cup Series driver rewarded him with the team’s first NASCAR victory, just 45 races into Big Machine Racing’s existence.

Austin Dillon took the ride last weekend in Charlotte, and Buford will be back in the car this weekend for the road race in Portland. The long-term plans for the car remain unclear, and that’s also the case when it comes to assessing Big Machine Racing’s ambitions.

Borchetta has a legitimate racing background and expertise in businesses inside and outside the sport. Michael Jordan and Pitbull leaped into the Cup Series with lesser backgrounds, albeit with partners schooled in NASCAR matters.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Borchetta could or should make the jump to the Cup Series. The questions would be when he might make such a move and whether he teamed with someone already connected to the sport’s No. 1 series.

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