Spire Motorsports co-owner Jeff Dickerson sat at the center of the desk Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway with Kyle Busch to his left.
The press conference was an opportunity to provide further detail to the biggest story of the week after Spire Motorsports bought the assets of Busch’s Craftsman Truck Series organization. In doing so, Spire Motorsports purchased not only Busch’s two truck operation, but also the race shop and Rowdy Manufacturing.
Whether the seating arrangement was thought out or spontaneous, Dickerson should have been front and center. After all, it’s what Spire Motorsports has been trying to do with itself for five seasons now. And it’s why the majority of Dickerson’s time in front of the media was spent pushing back at how Spire Motorsports is able to do business.
“Here’s what I hear: it’s not about the transaction or the structure,” Dickerson began. “I think what you’re asking is, are you guys for real? Or, something must be going on behind the scenes.”
Spire Motorsports purchased Busch’s team not two weeks after spending a reportedly large sum of money to buy the Live Fast Motorsports charter. Next season, Spire Motorsports will field three cars in the Cup Series in an alliance with Trackhouse Racing and its driver, Zane Smith.
Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr weren’t new to the sport when they bought the most valuable charter in the series at the time from Furniture Row Racing. Spire Motorsports was born from Spire Sports + Entertainment, a sports agency with many clients, including NASCAR.
The raised eyebrows around Spire Motorsports began then. Were they going to legitimately field a team? What was the end game? Was it a conflict of interest to represent drivers and teams and be competitors?
“I’m all for skepticism,” Dickerson said. “I think some of it’s healthy, but I don’t know how many more of these deals we have to do before people know we’re for real.”
There might not be a team that has done more moving and shaking than Spire Motorsports in the last five years. The charter acquisition from Live Fast Motorsports and the purchase of Kyle Busch Motorsports are just two more blocks on an already full mountain.
Spire Motorsports fielded its first car in 2019 and won the weather-shortened summer Daytona race with Justin Haley. Then there was the purchase of assets, charter included, of Leavine Family Racing and expanding to a second car. Next came leasing a charter to Trackhouse Racing for the 2021 season and selling two charters to Kaulig Racing for 2022 before turning around and buying one from Rick Ware.
“We’re a major league sport,” Dickerson said. “We’ve (NASCAR) been around for 75 years. We portray ourselves to corporate America like we’re major league and we are major league. So that number that’s been reported (of $40 million for the Live Fast charter), I don’t know why it’s such a shock.”
The acquisition of Kyle Busch’s truck operation is just the latest in a growing list of big moves by Spire. John K Harrelson/Motorsport Images
At one point, Busch chimed in that Spire Motorsports business dealings are “good for the sport.”
“We think it’s great for the sport,” Dickerson followed up saying. “We still have a way to go.”
Spire Motorsports is different and sometimes that can be hard to understand for outsiders, and that’s what leads to all the questions and criticism.
“It just feels like we’re always trying to prove something, you know?” Dickerson said. “Like, what’s going on? Or where’s this coming from? When we first did the (Furniture Row) deal, everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, what’s happening?’ Which, us too. Don’t get me wrong.
“But ‘real’ for us is, we want to be a playoff car. We want to be winners. It just feels like we’re trying to break out of that mold where everyone is like, ‘Are you guys even trying?’ We’ve made significant strides even before this (KBM deal) and what we’ve done this summer. We’re doing it.
“Maybe it’s not even something you can see, maybe it’s the way you’re perceived and talked about. But I think we’re making strides. We just want to be in the conversation to where it’s not a surprise that we’re up there.”
The No. 7 team has become the organization’s proof of concept. Every season has been better than the last, and hiring Corey LaJoie as the cornerstone of the company in 2021 has gone a long way in making that happen. As the team has improved, LaJoie continues to hit career milestones along the way.
LaJoie has three top-10 finishes and two top-five finishes this season. Those are single-season highs for both himself in the Cup Series as well as for Spire Motorsports.
It might be a lot of movement from Spire Motorsports, but as Dickerson asserted, “We’re not just throwing it up against the wall. Sometimes, it may appear that way, but we’re pretty deliberate in what we want to do.”
It’s why Dickerson was front and center at Talladega Superspeedway because Spire Motorsports, understood or not, is going to be a focal point in NASCAR for years to come.