School Bus Race

August 4, 2023

There’s team building. Then there’s Trackhouse Racing team building.

The longstanding idea of strengthening a company by building morale through fellowship and a certain level of competitive camaraderie includes a certain twist when it comes to Trackhouse Racing. 

To that end, the team participated in a special event Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. More than 200 members of the Trackhouse team and their family members came out to watch a most unique event during the track’s Summer Shootout Series. Six Trackhouse-themed buses with playful paint schemes like “Project 92” – an ode to the team’s successful Project 91 team - raced on the CMS quarter-mile oval for a lot of pride and smiles.

The school bus driver field included Trackhouse Racing founder and owner Justin Marks, a pit crew member from both the No. 1 and No. 99 teams and a road crew member from both the No. 1 and No. 99 teams along with a shop-based employee.

Shop-based mechanic James Civali – a former Modified racer from the Northeast - who took the checkered flag and the trophy.  But everyone felt like a winner.

The team’s NASCAR Cup Series drivers Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain – both currently in the midst of closing out the regular season – had a rare chance to experience the “other side” of the sport; waving the flags and handling the public address system as their crews and leader Marks competed.

“Man, that was so much fun,’’ said a delighted Suarez, who drives the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet. “They were pretty serious about it. Justin’s bus almost turned over on the first lap? I bet Charlotte Motor Speedway never thought it would have school buses hitting their walls.’’

With only a month remaining - four races - to set the 16-driver NASCAR Cup Series Playoff field, team-building and morale is beginning to crescendo. And what better way for the entire team to feel an absolute part of that elite competitive environment.

Navigating a quarter-mile oval in a bulky old school bus calls for the same trust, talent and tenacity that Suarez and Chastain – and all their team members – must exhibit with each NASCAR race. 

The results this week, however, didn’t matter as much as the process. Everyone at Trackhouse Racing left the track with a smile and a renewed intensity as the team motors toward the 2023 Playoffs with championship aspirations. Expectations.

This kind of event – part of “Trackhouse Tuesdays” is something unique and deeply significant to Trackhouse Racing which emphasizes the bonding not only among employees but their families too. It creates relationships that benefit team members personally and professionally – a link beyond the traditional work environment that makes Trackhouse Racing a “different” place to work. The school bus race – and the other Trackhouse Tuesday activities – was a non-too subtle example of not just team-building, but team-bonding.

“These are intentional,’’ said Trackhouse Racing Director of Race Operations Jeff Dowling of the interaction and closeness these events create for the team. 

“Families get to know each other and this is an important opportunity for bonding. It makes Trackhouse a place people want to work.”

Dinner, bounce houses for the kids even a rooftop view from high atop the speedway this week provided exactly the kind of an atmosphere that makes Trackhouse Racing so distinctive in the sport. 

“We love Trackhouse Tuesdays every couple of months when the families can all come out and have fun together,’’ Suarez said. “We have done a lot of different things over the year here at the shop or at special places.

“These people spend so many hours on the road. It’s Justin’s way of giving back to the families. It’s fun to get to see the wives and girlfriends and meet the kids. Justin really takes the culture of Trackhouse seriously and goes to great lengths to keep it at a high level.

“Plus,’’ Suarez added with a smile. “It’s just a lot of fun.’’

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