Bubba Wallace’s boss at 23XI Racing is open about the killing of some important people in NASCAR
Michael Jordan, Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin are the three characters that NASCAR fans think of first when it comes to 23XI Racing. Jordan is the money behind the Cup Series team, Wallace is the highly visible driver and Hamlin is the face of the organization when big announcements like the signing of Tyler Reddick are made.
Behind the scenes, however, Steve Lauletta is making the big decisions and planning the future of 23XI.
When he doesn’t, it sounds like Lauletta dreams of plotting the downfall of the folks running the tracks.
Steve Lauletta is an experienced marketing and racing executive
After Michael Jordan bought into Denny Hamlin’s pitch to create a new NASCAR Cup Series team for the 2021 season, the key hire was Steve Lauletta, who was brought on board as interim president of 23XI Racing.
A Notre Dame graduate, Lauletta worked in sports marketing at Miller Brewing, a major player in race sponsorship, and spent 10 years at Chip Ganassi Racing. On the side, he founded his own marketing consulting company.
The interim label lost its title towards the end of its debut season and it’s made significant strides since then. With Bubba Wallace as the team’s first driver in 2021, Lauletta introduced the second 23XI car with Kurt Busch last season and worked with Hamlin to line up Tyler Reddick as the newest driver of the No. 45 Toyota.
Why is Bubba Wallace’s boss talking about killing track managers?
Fifteen of Bubba Wallace’s points race sponsorships last season with 23XI Racing came from companies that were in the driver’s portfolio during his final season with Richard Petty Motorsports. Root Insurance and Leidos, Dr Pepper and Money Lion were also part of the 2022 lineup. They have assembled a solid selection of supporters across food and beverage, apparel and finance – all coveted by teams and leagues across all sports.
That’s another reason Steve Lauletta was a savvy employee at 23XI Racing, but he’s hardly the only one raising the money that keeps NASCAR teams in business. Every organization speaks to potential sponsors every week, and it’s a good bet that Lauletta’s colleagues have the same grievance he’s expressed Download Dale Jr Podcast.
“We’ve been fortunate to bring new brands to the sport for 23XI and as soon as we announce a brand I’ll say every circuit is sure to call them,” he said. “I’ve had conversations with the tracks and I’ll just say this: Why are your people calling the sponsor I have a relationship with? You should call me because I have the relationship.
“‘Well, I can do one of two things. I can either help you or I can kill you. Why don’t you want me to help you? Because I want them to be part of all the other stuff, but I don’t want you to do it behind back doors and alleyways and all that other stuff. Let’s work on it together.’”
“They don’t know what to ask”
Steve Lauletta’s frustration with people in other areas of NASCAR speaking to 23XI Racing’s sponsors is that they may not understand the potential partner’s needs because the agency managing the account is unfamiliar with NASCAR.
“Wouldn’t it be easier if I just gave them the one solution?” Lauletta asked on the podcast. “It’s easier for me because I know (better) where to go than someone sitting in New York and saying, ‘What should I do?’
“Not only do they not want to talk to multiple people, they don’t know what to ask for. You have no idea. They might never have been to a race, so they wouldn’t know a suite in Daytona or where am I in Sonoma. It’s up to us to be smarter again as a group and help these big brands and the world’s smartest marketers figure out why they should be involved in NASCAR.”
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