[Editor’s note: Interview was conducted by EPARTRADE in 2019]
Since it was founded by Allegiant Air CEO Maurice Gallagher Jr., Gallagher Motor Sports (now known as GMS Racing), has had a reputation for supporting up-and-coming drivers, including the founder’s son, Spencer Gallagher, who started racing at 12 and went on to compete in the NASCAR Truck and Xfinity Series. In 2016, GMS won the Truck Series Championship with Johnny Sauter, putting the team on the map in professional stock car racing, and cementing its commitment to a business strategy of developing its own vehicles and drivers… and promoting the heck out of both.
The team’s current line-up consists of Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed, Zane Smith and Tyler Ankrum in NASCAR’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, along with Sam Mayer in the ARCA Menards series.
Having moved from Charlotte in 2014 to a much larger industrial space adjacent to Statesville Regional Airport formerly occupied by Richard Petty Motorsports, the company has been able to grow both its race team operations and its performance development potential through the formation of GMS Fabrication, a cutting-edge fabricating facility staffed by close to 40 of GMS’s 100 full-time employees. They not only build the home team’s vehicles entirely in-house, but are now able to extend that service to other teams, as well.
“In 2014, our president, Mike Beam, really established that we do everything in-house,” explained Chuck Spicer, head of sales and partnerships for the company. “Once we got established and started running up front, people began looking at our stuff, and Mike saw an overall need to have alliances with smaller teams, to give them the opportunity to buy our chassis, and to bring their cars and trucks into our shop for fabrication and bodywork.”
Spicer described the facility as “a state-of-the-art, all-inclusive fabrication and metal shop with all of the latest technology to build chassis and fabricate race cars and trucks. Plus, we have some of the finest fabricators in the industry, and buy the best materials so that our people can work their craft to their full potential and put a really quality product out there.”
In addition to a full-complement of CNC machinery, modern jigs, chassis dynos, pull-down rigs, and other equipment, Spicer said, “We have all of the same technology that NASCAR uses to make sure vehicles meet all of the tolerances and specs required to race.”
Case in point is the company’s use of a Romer Absolute Arm from Hexagon Metrology, a portable, high-performance laser 3D measuring tool.
More importantly, GMS has invested in a Hawk-Eye Optical Scanning Station identical to the unit being used for NASCAR tech inspection. The device uses eight projectors and 17 cameras to produce a 3D model of the car, which is then compared to the CAD model of the car to determine whether it meets the required tolerances. The whole scanning process takes only 30 seconds to complete.
“I’m not sure people understand all of the capability that we have here, from building chassis to fabricating turnkey cars for K&N, Xfinity and Truck teams,” said Spicer. “We’ve done two K&N cars already this year, and when those kids left the building, they were racing.”
The fact that selling new race cars is dependent on an influx of new drivers is not lost on GMS management, so it’s not surprising that driver development has remained a huge part of the company’s business plan.
“That’s a really big thing here. We work hard at trying to get young, up-and-coming drivers. If someone is looking to take a young person somewhere, I think GMS is one of the first places they think about,” said Spicer. “We have driver development programs for K&N, Trucks and Xfinity, which are overseen by Mike Beam and Keith Barnwell. Those two are really the driving force behind driver development at GMS Racing.”
The company has just upped the ante even further in that department, teaming up with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports to form the Drivers Edge Development (DED) program with the backing of Chevrolet. The goal is to give young racers a full range of training to increase their professionalism both on and off the track, and encourage them up the ladder from late models to the upper divisions of NASCAR, all the while staying under the Chevrolet umbrella.
While helping raise a new crop of professional racers is good business in and of itself, in today’s rapidly-changing marketplace, there is another huge perk: young folks are masters of social media marketing, which is another of GMS Racing’s strong suits.
“In today’s society, everybody wants their information as quickly as they can get it,” suggested Spicer. “So it’s a matter of all of our drivers and staff staying on top of that. We have a young man who does all of our social media and our photos and videos for us, and I think it’s some of the best in the industry. As with any race team, there is an ongoing push to try to find and keep sponsors. We try to utilize the tools we have, not only in the race shop, but the talent we have upstairs to really make social media and our website a big part of our platform to help drive sales for our sponsors.
“If we can stay at the forefront of that, and have our stuff better than other people’s, then it’s no different than having the best race trucks out there. Content needs to be fresh and updated, and we have a lot of really talented people here that do that. That is really setting us apart, and we even have Cup teams that look at us and say, ‘Hey, they’re doing a lot over there.'”
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