CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Darrell Wallace Jr.’s path to a new ride in NASCAR has led to an indirect intersection with NBA superstar LeBron James.
During its sponsorship hunt for Wallace, Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark said the team set up a meeting for the driver with Maverick Carter, the agent who oversees much of James’ business empire.
Carter and James are childhood friends who co-founded LRMR, a sports and brand management company based in Akron, Ohio. LRMR, which started in 2006 and also represents Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, has a business partnership with Fenway Sports Management, which falls under the Fenway Sports Group umbrella that also includes Roush Fenway Racing.
“The interest is pretty high (in Wallace), and we’ve worked closely with Fenway Sports Group,” Newmark said. “We’ve had him connected to (Carter) because LeBron is under the Fenway umbrella. We think there’s a lot of creative opportunities to do some really crossover promotions between sports with Bubba.
“So (with) LeBron and Johnny Manziel, John Henry has kind of created a big empire up there, obviously with Liverpool, NESN and Roush. There’s also a sports marketing arm that includes a lot of dynamic personalities. That gets us excited because we’re working with them to do things with our drivers as well.”
Wallace told MotorsportsTalk that he briefly talked with Carter recently.
“We’re trying to get some things rolling there,” he said. “That’s a huge company (Fenway Sports Group). He knows that organization well. It could open a lot of doors. That’s really cool to know you have connections to LeBron and other key partners there. You have to go make the best of it.”
With his Oct. 26, 2013 win in the Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway, Wallace became the first African-American to win a NASCAR national series race in nearly 50 years (Wendell Scott, who will be inducted Friday into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, was the last at Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 1, 1963).
Wallace, 21, notched four victories in a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing last season and finished third in points, but a lack of sponsorship left him without a ride. He moved to Roush last November and is expected to run a Ford full time in the 2015 XFINITY Series.