Stock car racing in America is a serious financial undertaking. The hard facts of finances at the highest levels dictate the need for sponsorship, alliances, and good old fashioned business to business deals to get a driver in a vehicle and on the track. For many smaller teams on the grid in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, these deals are closed on a week to week basis and may feature a different driver or small stable of drivers in the same truck across the length of the season. While the term “renting” a ride is an oversimplification, most of these agreements are indeed an arrangement for an established racing team to bring a prepared vehicle to the track and a driver to provide funding in order grab some real world seat time. But what happens when one side of the arrangement can’t hold up their end of the deal? What recourse is there for a team or driver that leaves a race dissatisfied, and just what should the NASCAR community take notice of? For our story today let’s look at Travis McCullough and his personal experience with truck series team G2G Racing.
Travis McCullough may not be a name you’ve heard of when it comes to NASCAR racing in recent years, but the California native is no newbie to piloting a stock car. “I used to race back in the Southwest Touring Series, did some ARCA as well. We actually had a really good run on the Fontana road course when they tried that. We qualified first but on the cool down lap we had a tire blow, wrecked that, and that laid me up for the weekend. Did Sonoma after that, but with the economy in 2008 it was time to try something else.” McCullough worked with Ty Joiner and other well known members of the stock car racing community before his absence, and mostly ran his family racing operation in tight cooperation with his business partners. The idea of renting a stock car was new to McCullough, but given his experiences he was ready to take on a new approach to the sport. “Racing is like a drug, if you’re ever hooked on it before, it doesn’t take much to get you back in.” In more recent years McCullough was running a modified and late model operation but was growing a thirst to retry stock car road course racing. “I was getting a little tired of the circle track, and looking for road course stuff is what led me to G2G.” Mostly through social media, McCullough was in contact with G2G Racing owner Tim Viens about getting a truck ready for the June series race at Sonoma. “Everything looked good at the time. Social media is great for hiding a lot of things, but everything looked like it was fitting into place and Tim Viens was super great to talk to.”
While shopping around for a deal, what intrigued McCullough the most about the G2G prospect was the extremely low crash clause worked into the deal. In most cases of a rental drive, the driver will front an amount of money to pay for the “seat” but also pay an additional sum as a deposit should the vehicle end up in a wreck which the driver would get back minus the needed repairs, commonly known as a crash clause. While the appearance of these fees would be considered standard, the G2G crash clause dollar amount was far lower than any other team according to McCullough. “The crash clause is a lot of times higher than the rental fee to use the truck, but G2G’s was really affordable…let’s say it like that. We weren’t looking to dump a ton of money into this, and I was excited to just get on track.” After paying for the ride (but not yet the crash clause) and arriving at Sonoma on Friday of race weekend with sponsorship dignitaries in tow, Travis McCullough was ready to take another swing at the big leagues of NASCAR. From nearly the first minute on the grounds of the Sonoma Raceway however, nothing went right.
“The G2G team made it sound like they were gonna be low on guys, so I flew out some guys I knew and worked with to be there to help get the truck settled and we were ready to rock and roll. Haulers were to arrive at 11am [on Friday], but it comes around and it’s not there. Not there at 12, not there at 1, it keeps getting promised but Mason [Filippi, scheduled driver of the 46 G2G car] and I are sitting there thinking the worst. We’re just about to give up when the hauler arrives at 2 o’clock.” While not ideal, this was not a deal ender as there was theoretically still enough time to set and tech the truck before scheduled practice that day. As Travis McCullough’s 47 truck was unloaded from the hauler however, an even bigger set of problems were discovered.
“Missing pieces on the body, the motor was still torn down, electrical plugins not attached, brake system not ready and not bled, parts I had sent them for cooling were just sitting in the truck seat…[G2G] told us it was to help the truck get through inspection, but NASCAR took a look at the truck and said, ‘…what do you want us to do here?’”
In short, from his account NASCAR looked at the 47 truck as it sat and informed McCullough that it was not ready to run through a technical inspection. “[G2G Racing] had sent two crew chiefs, two employees and a hauler driver total for these two trucks. My guys who have been in racing all their lives set out to get this truck ready. We worked for an hour [before practice] and maybe got it about 60% there when the crew chief told us that we had to stop working on the truck. I think this was because of the drug test.”
Yet another unplanned issue with Travis McCullough’s Sonoma weekend was the delay in delivery of drug testing results to NASCAR in time to compete on track. “We did our test within the time allotted, a week before the race. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday would go by…NASCAR was very upfront with me that they were trying but they weren’t getting the results. It might have been a machine issue at the lab, but they didn’t get it in time.” On Monday after the race, McCullough received his negative drug tests, and quickly posted the results via social media to disapprove the notion that a “failed” test would have been to blame for missing the race. “I’ve never even touched a drug in my life, being in racing this long I never did, and I needed to clear my name on social media.” McCullough was not the only planned Sonoma truck racer affected, as the scheduled driver of the 30 truck Colin Garrett was also unable to race at Sonoma due to this lab delay. On Point Motorsports was able to start Josh Bilicki in the 30 truck, but no such deal was closed for G2G’s 47 truck, but not for a lack of trying on the part of Travis McCullough.
As it became apparent that Travis McCullough the driver would not be able to compete in the race, Travis McCullough the business man still set out to get his sponsors some track time with a cleared driver, despite the separate issue with the drug test. “No matter who you had, the 47 truck never fired, no one would have been able to drive it.” While the fellow G2G 46 team truck was able to make tech and take some practice laps, it’s believed that Mason Filippi stepped out of the ride before the race and was quickly replaced by Stefan Parsons. From in-car audio heard on site, the 46 truck was reported to have throttle and engine issues from the initial pace laps, and was withdrawn from the event in the first stage for what was officially listed as an “oil cooler” DNF.
Again, while not ideal, Travis McCullough made strides to contact Tim Viens in an effort to get a driver in the 47 truck if it could be made race ready, but no such driver nor race ready truck could come to pass. “I’ll worry about me later, just put this truck on the track, please…but it just couldn’t happen. Every time we mentioned it to Viens about getting a driver [while at the track on Friday] he said ’let’s talk on Monday.’ I’ve heard things about the engine and other stuff from other guys before and after the fact, and nothing about this whole deal made sense. I don’t know how they could have delivered this truck the way it was. We paid for the truck, it wasn’t ready, and we’ve been told we’re not getting our money back. [Viens] was very adamant about that yesterday, he said ‘we delivered a truck, you couldn’t drive it’ I said that the truck wouldn’t run and he told me ‘that’s not my problem.’ We had conversations with Ryan Bell the crew chief along with Tim Viens, and it got heated. We’re not dumb individuals, we setup our own cars on our team and when we called G2G out on what’s wrong, they weren’t going to listen.”
As you might expect, Travis McCullough and his associates are exploring legal options on what to do next, but even under ideal circumstances resolutions will take time. In the here and now however, this becomes a matter for the NASCAR community at large.
For its seemingly grand scale, this racing community is fairly tight knit, and people in and around the garages and shops talk to each other. Unconfirmed statements are circulating about future G2G rental commitments being dissolved, and the future of G2G looks very much in doubt to some as things sit in response to Sonoma. What was once the careful back room mutterings of jaded industry lifers has the opportunity to become a talking point on the greater public stage. Racing people, be they fans, owners, crew, or drivers typically don’t stand idly by when something that threatens the well being of the sport rears its head. The ideas of lost money, and undelivered promises don’t sit well with most people in this business, but that itself may present a new opportunity.
Travis McCullough, whom was just last week a relatively unknown face in NASCAR racing is already being approached about seat time for other teams in 2022. “I’ve had over 100 calls on this since Friday, and while some of it has been about the problems with G2G, it’s been about other opportunities as well. I’ve talked with some guys from Reaume Brothers and a few other teams…you find out who to trust in this business the hard way sometimes, but that’s what makes you stronger. I don’t like what happened, but this might just work out better.”
Travis McCullough’s sponsors for the Sonoma race:
California Tank & Pneumatics
California Rock & Ready Mix
R&R Truck Repair
Follow Matt on Twitter for all things Motorsports!
Interesting read. There are many unanswered questions. My main question is did NASCAR ever approve this truck to get on track. This answers everything. It removes the timeliness of the drug test and the late arriving hauler.