LeBron James’ agent involved in Darrell Wallace Jr.’s hunt for sponsorship

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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.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?