Dave Alpern the President of Joe Gibbs Racing stopped by this week's edition of The Bullring on Racing America and he dove into the race team's new partnership with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment. According to Alpern, the partnership with HBSE is massive for JGR and will allow them to strengthen their overall organization.
The Joe Gibbs Racing team is unique within the NASCAR Cup Series landscape, as the Gibbs family doesn't have a bevy of businesses that it's involved with outside of racing.
"One thing that's unique about Joe Gibbs Racing is that unlike several of the other race teams, we don't really have any other businesses," Alpern explained. "This is all we do. Which has its advantages, meaning this is all we focus on. We wake up and go to bed thinking about this. But at the same time, as you know, the world is changing. Particularly in the sports world. And I think for us one of the things we talked about is how could we partner with somebody -- not just from a financial resource standpoint -- but somebody who is an expert in sports. In monetizing a professional sports team."
With the partnership, JGR is now aligned with organizations within all of the major sporting leagues in the United States including Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, and the National Hockey League. All of those resources will become a source of added strength for one of NASCAR's most potent forces on the track.
"There are a number of tentacles that come off of HBSE, all of which will be things that I think will help us strengthen the race team in the future," Alpern said.
Just over a month since the partnership announcement, Joe Gibbs Racing is already seeing massive benefits related to the pairing, including a direct line to information on how teams in other sports drive value back to their marketing partners and sponsors.
"I'll give you a specific example that just happened last week. We just started this partnership. I just went last week out to San Francisco to a President's summit. They brought the team presidents, and there were over two dozen professional sports organizations and they are all affiliated with HBSE, and Arctos. Arctos is a partner of HBSE," Alpern stated. "I was at a two-day conference with folks running NHL teams, MLB teams, NBA teams, soccer teams. Talking about everything from fan experience to media rights to digital and social media. I walked away with hundreds of slides and pages of notes to bring back to our team to say these are best practices ideas."
Alpern went on to say, "There were tangible examples that I then wanted to apply to say wow we could do this at a race. What we're doing is so much bigger on the marketing side than sticking a sticker on a car. We're creating marketing solutions for sponsors, and we have to deliver more. We have to keep doing more, and more than we used to."
Additionally, Alpern says the partnership allows Joe Gibbs Racing to introduce the world of NASCAR to marketing partners within the HBSE network of teams that maybe had never thought about stepping into the motorsports world.
At Nashville, Alpern says JGR hosted 20 or so people from potential sponsors, who had never been to a NASCAR race before. This gives them the chance to introduce themselves, and the sport to these people and companies.
At the end of the day, the partnership is aimed at helping Alpern and his team at the top find new ways to feed the beast that keeps Joe Gibbs Racing running smoothly from a financial standpoint, and it allows the members of the team that are involved with the actual competition side of the race team strictly focus on their jobs.
"On the racing side, that's our core business. We say we wake up and go to bed thinking about one thing; how do we go fast? It sounds simple, but every decision we make around here revolves around, will this make us go faster," Alpern said. "From a racing standpoint, our engineers, our crews, our drivers, they're the best in the world. We're going to race great as long as we can feed the machine.
"We have got to have the revenue to have the people and the parts and the pieces and to keep the machine going. As a team president, look at the future, that's my job. To make sure we have the machine running. Do we have the revenue that we can make the folks downstairs making us go fast and not have to worry about any of that. We don't want them to have to think about that. We want them to have to focus on going fast."
While this is an impactful deal for JGR, the partnership with HBSE is unique from the group's other dealings to date with other sports properties.
"This partnership is a little unusual for them because, with HBSE most of the partners that they have, they buy outright. And they come in and they run it. With us, it's very different," Alpern explained. "They're not interested in that. They have a huge interest in NASCAR. They sort of fell in love with our sport. But they basically said that you all have a formula that has worked for 30 years, we want you to keep doing what you're doing. We just want to help you. We want to help in the non-racing areas."
Alpern also reiterates that the partnership between JGR and HBSE is not an indicator that the Gibbs family is looking to get out of the NASCAR business -- quite the opposite, actually.
"The important thing that I want to stress that Coach has said all along is that he wants to keep this in the family," Alpern stressed. "Many people see partners and think the family is getting out. This is actually the opposite. This was in order to ensure that this business can stay healthy and stay in the family, we need a partner to help us. And that's exactly what our friends at HBSE are going to do so we can keep this in the Gibbs family for many years to come."
Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade, LAT Images, Courtesy of Toyota Racing