For one night, Chip Ganassi Racing’s shop was transformed into a playground for budding NASCAR fans. Between a massive McDonald’s ball pit, full red carpet and countless selfie sticks, the second annual Sound Garage more than doubled in size and was a massive success.
The main attraction was A Thousand Horses’ performance at the end of the night, but the event provided so much more for fans. Getting the opportunity to brush shoulders with some of the best young drivers in the sport is something Ganassi hopes will stick with young fans.
“As fans go away from the sport we have to bring new ones in,” Ganassi said. “New fans need an entry point to the sport and that’s what we hopes Sound Garage is.
“People are talking about Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart retiring, but I want to know what they’re saying about our young guys. Kyle Larson, Brennan Poole, Dylan Kwasniewski—these guys are the future of our sport. These young people can latch on and grow in the sport with them.”
The concert wasn’t the only entertaining component for young fans. Hundreds of tweens lined up to walk down a red carpet, taking selfies with Larson, Poole, Kwasniewski and Sage Karam. When they were done with that, Larson and others joined some fans in the photo booth with wild outfits.
While Larson missed out on making the Chase this season, he hopes that interacting with fans on a first-hand basis will keep them coming back.
“This just brings a whole lot of exposure from a lot of teenagers who aren’t likely into NASCAR just yet,” Larson said. “This helps give them an eye-opening look at what we do and do it in a fun environment. Hopefully it gets them excited to come out and watch us at the race track.”
What is the best way to bring in those young fans? By providing them with young faces to support. Ganassi has done just that with a pool of NASCAR drivers under 24 years old. Poole, 24, was the oldest in attendance while Larson, 23, and Kwasniewski, 20, are far from elder statesmen.
Sure, there are veterans like Jamie McMurray across CGR’s teams, but Larson believes Ganassi provides a perfect environment for fledging racers.
“The great thing about Chip is that he’s willing to give young drivers a chance,” Larson said. “He’s got a lot of drivers all across his race teams and they’re mostly younger guys. I think that helps teenage fans find someone to root for and follow in the years to come.”
The hope is that not only will fans follow CGR’s drivers, but also show up to local tracks to build the sport as a whole. Given Larson’s sixth-place finish last year at the Bank of America 500, those new fans might be witness to a promising race for the second-year driver.
“Obviously we hope that this brings local fans out to the Charlotte races starting this weekend,” Ganassi said. “What a better entry point than this event? Especially when you have a huge NASCAR weekend coming up in our backyard.”