Trackhouse Racing employees need not look too far to figure out the high-rev nature, the competitive heart and soul of their team. Justin Marks.
While Trackhouse Racing drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez were winning race stages, leading laps and earning Top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Cup Series over the weekend at California Speedway, the organization’s leader, Marks, was getting his own competitive fix as well, racing in the Trans Am Series.
The season-opening Trans Am event was at Florida’s world-renowned Sebring International Raceway where Marks earned pole position at the notoriously tough road course. And he was actually leading the race when his car experienced problems with less than half the laps remaining.
“Bummer end, but we made a. lot of progress with the car which I’m happy about,’’ Marks said of the outing.
Racing passion starts at the top for Trackhouse Racing.
“I think it probably checks a couple different boxes for me, but I think the simplest answer is just my love to do it,’’ said Marks, who battled Sunday with high profile drivers such as Paul Menard, and Boris Said and also next generation talents like Matthew Brabham, who ended up winning the race.
“While I’ve stepped away from fulltime competition to do Trackhouse, it was never the intent to never drive again, because I really do enjoy it. I love it. My kids like watching me race and it keeps the fire lit. So much of the business side just doesn’t have to do with the race cars, it’s running the company and finances and all this stuff that doesn’t have to do with race cars really.
“So when I drive, it just re-ignites my passion and it keeps me freshly invigorated to commit emotionally to my race team.’’Justin Marks
Some people may not realize what an accomplished racer Marks is. He earned a NASCAR victory at Mid-Ohio SportsCar Course in the 2016 Xfinity Series race there. But he has nearly 70 starts in sports car series over the last two decades – standing atop the podium nearly 20 times.
He has nine career sports car victories, the last in 2019 – from pole position – in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTD class at another iconic track, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
“If you look back, Roger Penske was a driver, Rick Hendrick was a driver,” Said explained of his former teammate Marks.
“Justin understands what Ross [Chastain] and what Daniel [Suarez] are going through. He knows the highs and the lows. He knows everything about that. It doesn’t matter what series you’re running, it’s all the same. So, I think in that respect he has a way better understanding of what they’re going through so he can make it better.’’
That certainly plays a part in Marks’ decision to be as competitive on-track himself as he expects of his two-car Trackhouse team.
“I think it’s kind of cool for everybody on the team to see me race,’’ Marks said. “They all follow it and watch it and kind of get a kick out of when the boss is driving. When I drive it keeps me in a racer’s mindset so I can be a better supporter for Ross and Daniel and continue to understand the experience they have at a race track and their job within in the team. And it helps to be able to talk to them not as a boss or a team owner but like a fellow racer just understanding their emotional highs and lows and their commitment levels and that kind of stuff.
“When I hear Ross and Daniel talking about what they feel in a race car and what they need in a race car, it was like I was just in that spot, so I understand the language that much better and can be that much more effective and help them.’’
“I think my racing checks a lot of boxes and delivers some value to Trackhouse.”Justin Marks
That’s certainly been Marks’ experience. Even as he was walking the paddock before his own race over the weekend, many of competitors wanted to talk NASCAR and more specifically, talk Trackhouse.
“What’s cool about it is that it’s a very different world than NASCAR,’’ Marks, 41, explained. “It’s a different group of people, a different demographic, but everybody knows all about Trackhouse Racing and think it’s cool. They’ve watched us do things on the race track so it’s great to know it continues to get a sort of brand amplification for our business and people are just generally intrigued by what we’re doing.’’
From the front office to the cockpit, Trackhouse Racing is a team that appreciates and exudes competitive excellence. Justin Marks asks nothing more of his team than he expects of himself. Results.
“To see him as a powerhouse now is crazy to me,’’ Said said of his longtime friend Marks. “I always knew he was a great kid, but I never would have known all those years ago he would be the next Rick Hendrick of NASCAR.
“What I see about Justin that’s different in this next generation of great team owners is a new style. My son and I were talking about it this weekend, ‘look how cool his car looks, how cool the motorhome looks.’
“He’s bringing this whole new way of doing it and it just seems new and exciting.’’