By all accounts, the union between Trackhouse Racing and UFC great Miesha Tate has been as natural as sports partnerships could possibly be – NASCAR’s hottest team and one of the most celebrated mixed martial arts champions together. And winning in every sense of the word.
The world-renowned UFC and Mixed Martial Arts champion Tate – sponsored by Trackhouse Racing - has enjoyed being part of the team and is quick to acknowledge the two sports are actually quite in sync despite their obvious differences.
“I think the pressure to get it right, is very relatable,’’ Tate, 36, said. “There is certainly a real element of danger, and not every sport do I feel like has that fear factor, the element of danger and how serious it is if it goes wrong.
“The element of injury is real and so is the element of having to take it really seriously. We’re not playing a game. Racing is not playing a game and fighting is not playing a game.
“You have to strive for perfection as much as possible.’’
It’s an ideal shared and appreciated by Trackhouse Racing founder Justin Marks, who has established himself as an absolute force in motorsports – daring to try different philosophies using a uncommon vision and approach to the sport. It motivates Tate as much as the race team itself. As with Marks, Tate has long been a standard in can-do – scoring 19 wins in her celebrated career.
“I love talking to Justin because he has such a mind for wanting to learn,’’ Tate said. “I feel like he has a great mind and is a very smart man in so many ways, yet he is so humble and he’s the one always asking the questions even though he’s probably got more answers than most people he talks to.
“He just has the mind where it doesn’t matter what he knows, he wants to know what he doesn’t know.
“Justin knows a lot but it takes a very humble sort of person and I see that in people who genuinely want to be successful and are passionate – they want to learn out of every situation.’’
Since becoming affiliated with Trackhouse Racing last season, Tate has gotten to know the team and really take in the drivers – Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez - on a different level. They are the front-facing Trackhouse brand and the combination of their talents and personalities is something Tate appreciates.
“Ross and Daniel are two very interesting guys,’’ Tate said. “I feel like Daniel has a lot of cultural pride behind him and he’s such a great ambassador for Latinos. I love he’s out there doing his thing. He’s very passionate, very family-driven man and has a lot of elements that motivate him that come from the external as well.
“Ross, I see he is very internally driven - he has a championship mindset and knows that ultimately, it comes down to his willingness to stick his neck on the line. Which he does. He is so incredible and fun to watch.
“He’s the guy that will do the unthinkable and just find a way to make it happen. He has the intangible, that something special. You can’t put a word to it, you can’t put an exact action to it. There’s just something about him that is very unique and those are all great signs for his goals and ambitions inside the NASCAR world.”
Speaking of Chastain, Tate conceded she was impressed by both his passion. … and right hook during a fiery pit road confrontation with a competitor earlier this season.
“Even in that, his ability to think through a high pressure situation and execute was a perfect example because he elbow-blocked first,’’ Tate said. “It was perfect. He was elbow-blocking and he made sure the situation was only where he could be offensive and your offense is really only as good as your defense.
“So he went defense first then made sure he was in the clear, then executed his offense and got the heck out of Dodge. I was like, ‘this guy is brilliant.’
“Must be something behind the watermelon juice,’’ she added with a laugh.
That kind of dedication to craft is exactly what has drawn so many fans to Trackhouse Racing, despite it being relatively newcomer compared to the longtime NASCAR powerhouses. The success going up against those historic organizations has actually created a huge fanbase for the team – people that respect what Trackhouse is doing and plans to keep doing.
And it’s a concept Tate is very familiar with in the UFC realm.
“There’s been a lot of crossover in the fans,’’ she said. “I’ve been pleasantly received in the NASCAR world and really enjoyed it both as a fan and then the relatability as an athlete. It’s a singular sport, but it takes a real strong team to get you there for each fight and each race.
“The team element is so important but I also can really identify with realizing that ultimately you’ve got to be the one to pull the trigger and make it happen. The fans are great and get that. It seems like they are the same fans – fans of the NASCAR world are fans of fighting and vice versa.’’
It’s a shared mindset for sure and the combination of Tate and Trackhouse has been mutually inspiring, mutually rewarding.