Yet another new NASCAR team has joined the fold, this time led by one of the biggest music label moguls. On Tuesday, Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta announced the formation of the Big Machine Racing Team, a NASCAR Xfinity Series team that will field the #48 Chevrolet Camaro for Jade Buford on a full-time basis in 2021.
“I’ve always been involved in racing, it’s a part of my DNA,” Borchetta stated. “Whether as a competitor, a fan or a sponsor, racing is a constant in my life and is a part of our Big Machine culture. The formation of the Big Machine Racing team only broadens the integration opportunities for our recording artists and the sport.”
Founded in 2004, Big Machine Records serves as a label for country and pop artists that include clients like Tim McGraw and Rascall Flatts. Taylor Swift also began her widely successful music career under Big Machine, though that relationship would eventually go down in flames after 2017.
While Big Machine artists such as the aforementioned three have ties to NASCAR, whether it be sponsorship, performing at NASCAR-related events and races, or simply being fans of the sport, the company itself has also dipped its feet into promotions. From 2011 to 2014, Big Machine Records served as the sponsor of the Cup Series‘ Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and its Big Machine Vodka brand has appeared in the race name since 2017. The 2020 race, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, promoted Big Machine Hand Sanitizer. Drivers like David Gilliland, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, and Clint Bowyer have raced with Big Machine sponsorship, while all of Buford’s Xfinity starts featured sponsorship from the Big Machine family.
Buford, a sports car veteran who has raced in series like the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Pirelli World Challenge, and British GT Championship, ran all four of the 2020 Xfinity schedule’s road course races. After finishing fourteenth in his NASCAR début at Indianapolis for SS-Green Light Racing, he joined JD Motorsports for a nineteenth-place run at Road America before returning to SSGLR for the Daytona road course and Charlotte Roval events. He finished those two races in sixteenth and eighth. With his road racing prowess, Buford will certainly be eager to continue showing his stuff on such tracks as the 2021 Xfinity calendar boasts seven of them.
“I’m thrilled and honored to pilot the Big Machine Xfinity Chevrolet Camaro in 2021,” he said. “I’ve dreamed of being in the NASCAR series and I intend to make the absolute most of this opportunity. I know it’s a steep learning curve, and we face great challenges, but I have the utmost confidence in what we’re building and I just can’t wait to get to Daytona!”
The team will be led by Patrick Donahue, a longtime crew chief who worked with four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon‘s JG Motorsports team in the Xfinity Series from 1999 to 2000. Donahue has spent the last three years as the crew chief of the #08 SSGLR car, driven by Buford’s team-mate Joe Graf Jr. in 2020.
“The opportunity to partner with Scott and all things Big Machine is one that I just could not pass up,” Donahue commented. “He’s driven to succeed in everything he does and I have no doubt that with our hard work ethic and determination, we will find our way to the front.”
Borchetta joins a wave of new team owners for the 2021 season, a group that also includes fellow music industry figures like Pitbull, who co-owns the Cup Series’ Trackhouse Racing