A 6-11 former high school and college all-American, as well as five-time NBA all-star, is a stock car racer at heart. His love for NASCAR was the initial pull that got Brad Daugherty into racing circles as a partial Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series owner, and later as a racing analyst for weekly NASCAR coverage on ESPN/ABC. What brings him further is his inner driver for diversity.
Daugherty, who donned the No. 43 jersey in high school and the NBA in honor of NASCAR legend Richard Petty (he lost a coin flip for the 43 at North Carolina), has purchased a 33-percent share of JTG Racing, located in Harrisburg, N.C. The famed Wood Brothers operation was part of the team until the early 2008 season.
The JTG team currently fields two Nationwide Series cars and has also run a truck in the motor sport’s third-tier series. The Black Mountain, N.C., native has partnered with former advertising executive Tad Geschickter and his wife Jodi to fulfill one of his long range ambitions of becoming a Cup series owner. By the end of this season, the new team name will be JTG/Daugherty Racing.
Daugherty is the second prominent minority to become involved in NASCAR ownership this year. NFL All-Pro Randy Moss announced the formation of a Truck series team in April, and plans to hire a driver to race later this season and run full time in ’09. The team is called Moss Motorsports, LLC. The truck is expected to be No. 81, the same number Moss wears with the ’08 Super Bowl runner-up New England Patriots.
Daugherty, 42, co-founded NASCAR’s Diversity Council with NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France in 2000, and has been an active proponent of the initiative. He has also held a position on the sport’s Rules and Competition Committee. As a youngster growing up in the North Carolina mountains, his dad and uncle built and raced hot rods for local, non-sanctioned races. Brad has also built cars and enjoys the mechanical side of racing.
He intends to fund a Sprint Cup Series ride in ’09 as well as two Nationwide cars, and aims to continue his broadcasting career. The No. 47 Little Debbie Ford will be piloted in the Cup series by Australian driver Marcos Ambrose. The 43 number is already taken by Petty Enterprises’ Bobby Labonte.
Ambrose currently steers the No. 59 Kingsford Charcoal Ford in the Nationwide Series. Little known Kelly Bires drives the 47 car sponsored by Clorox. Ambrose has had a top-five and three top-10 finishes in the Nationwide Series prior to last weekend.
Guiding one of the two Nationwide cars next season will probably be Coleman Pressley, a 19-year-old JTG employee and weekend racer in late model cars, and the son of former NASCAR driver Robert Pressley, a long-time personal friend of Daugherty who was born and reared in Asheville, N.C. Pressley drove a Daugherty car to victory in the 1989 Busch (now Nationwide) Series. Two years earlier, Kenny Irwin Jr.-who was later killed in a ’00 crash during a practice run at New Hampshire-drove a Daugherty Ford to two wins in the Truck series for what was called Liberty Racing.