If you’re fortunate enough to spend some time around Justin Marks, you’ll notice immediately that the owner and founder of Trackhouse Racing is unfailingly cordial, quick with a handshake, a smile, or a pat on the back. There’s also a distinctive and unmistakable presence about him – he’s contemplative, receptive to new ideas, open to different approaches.
And the difference between Marks and most people is that he puts those ideas to action.
Following Trackhouse driver Ross Chastain’s summer victory at Nashville Superspeedway – a special victory for Marks, who has put down roots in the Music City – the Trackhouse Racing leader spoke at length about his philosophies and motivations.
Asked what he felt the difference was in owning a NASCAR Cup Series team and owning a “championship-caliber” NASCAR Cup Series team, the 42-year old Marks wasted no time explaining his decidedly philosophical take on the process.
“I’m still in the middle of that process, I mean, I’m still early in that process,’’ explained Marks, who founded Trackhouse Racing in 2020.
“There’s a very sort of diplomatic and political paradigm that exists in this garage area. We’re the new challengers. It’s an interesting tribal philosophy I think that’s on display here that’s very fundamental to human psychology. I pay attention to that.
“I think the difficult thing is when you’re got established powerhouses here, then somebody new shows up, it upsets that apple cart a little bit, people respond to it in different ways. For me, it’s been learning how to manage the landscape of those responses.’’
Marks has plotted his own path; not only daring to do things differently but priding himself in the new road taken. And the result has been not only trophies on the race track but a real sense of groundbreaking off the track in areas previously unconsidered.
Marks did not just build a new race team but he has established one of the most innovative ownership groups in the sport’s history, enlisting the talents of longtime NASCAR team executives and inviting a worldwide musical superstar, Pitbull, to join him for the run.
Marks is not afraid to take chances because he has thought through the process and weighed the risk versus reward. He’s not afraid to try something new because “it” could be the difference.
At the track, Marks’ s fresh ideas included installing live-action LED screens on the back of the team haulers to highlight and draw attention to the drivers, teams and corporate partners. Trackhouse hosts live musical acts in the outside hospitality area weekly, catching everyone’s attention as they walk through the garage.
“That’s just us thinking about how to create an experience for our partners and give amplification of our brand the best that we can – always thinking outside the box,’’ Marks explained.
“For decades, teams had entertained the most important VIPs at the back of the haulers before the race, just sort of standing around. We spent 2021 doing that. Every race we would stand back there going, ‘how can we make this better and more exciting?’
“It’s just sort of the constant process of thinking about how we can build a great experience for our partners, build an experience for our fans, build a brand. And the way it’s come together has been amazing.
“When you walk through the garage area, you see someone playing his guitar, you see the screens. That’s exactly what we’re trying to do as a company, is just be different, be exciting, set a vibe.
“Really, when our partners come, all of our guests, our drivers and employees and fans, to be attracted to what we’re doing, it’s just cool and different.’’
The unique strategy and emphasis on team environment has created a strong foundation at Trackhouse that literally extends from the track to the garage to the race shop to corporate boardrooms.
Marks’ process is revolutionary in many ways, making the Trackhouse Racing organization a leader not only on the race track but in all the essential fundamental ways that have verified he and the team are on the right course.
“I think at the end of the day we have to stay fundamental to what our mission is and that’s making sure we’re doing the job for Chevrolet that we need to do, making sure we are good partners with our key partners, Hendrick [Motorsports] and [Richard] Childress Racing and doing the best job that we can as a team,’’ Marks said.
“It’s very different on the race track than it is in the garage area. It’s very different in the garage area than it is in business meetings during the week. For me, the process has been learning how to sort of navigate all that.’’
“At the end of the day, a lot of it is sort of navigating all that noise. We’ve got 142 people that are working really, really hard at Trackhouse, that want to win for Trackhouse and deliver for our partners. Just do a great job.’’