NASCAR BTS: Penn Mutual Gets Well With Jimmie Johnson

by Mary Jo Buchanan On Thu, Jan. 14, 2016


Ever wonder what a life insurance company has in common with a six-time NASCAR champion?

This week’s NASCAR Behind the Scenes is all about the unique relationship that has developed between The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company and Jimmie Johnson, all because of a Wellness Challenge.

The relationship began last year with a connection between one of Penn Mutual’s advisors in California who just happened to have a contact with the Jimmie Johnson Foundation.

“I was out in California meeting with Mark Mitchell, who is an advisor with our Pacific region,” Dave O’Malley, President & Chief Operating Officer of Penn Mutual, said. “We both actually share a love of cars so we were talking about racing and sports.”

“One of the things that Mark does really well is a lot of experiential marketing. We were talking to him about that and he mentioned the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. We learned more about the Foundation’s mission and some of the things that it was up to, like the Wellness Challenge.”

“As a life insurance company, wellness is important to us, and we were looking to do more around it. In addition, health care costs for us as a company continue to go up so promoting a good healthy lifestyle fits our corporate beliefs.  So, this seemed like a great partnership.”

“Plus, Jimmie is just a terrific person and athlete and an even better spokesman. We decided this was the way for Penn Mutual to get involved.”

This year, Penn Mutual is presenting the Wellness Challenge, which is comprised of three events, including a 5K run on Sunday, May 22, 2016 in Huntersville, NC; a Triathlon on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 in Waxhaw, NC; and a Triathlon on Sunday, September 11, 2016 in Davidson, North Carolina.

New to the Wellness Challenge is a ‘Virtual Triathlon’ that anyone can do at their own pace and location.  The only stipulation is that the participant completes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run all during the month of October.

2016 also marks the second year of sponsorship of the Wellness Challenge by Penn Mutual. Penn Mutual does not just provide the funding, however, as their leadership team, as well as their associates, participate in the Wellness Challenge themselves, living out that commitment to wellness and good health by example.

“Our associates do participate and I even participated in all three of the Wellness Challenges last year,” O’Malley said. “My results, however, are not as impressive as the six-time NASCAR champion.”

“We did a few events last year to qualify for a chance to go to Charlotte and either run or walk in the 5K. So, we created some nice engagement with our home office associates.  The fact that these events are held in Charlotte fits extremely well with our presence in North Carolina. It really came together as the right fit and the right time for us.”

Penn Mutual has even bigger plans to involve their associates from across the country in this year’s JJF Wellness Challenge.

“We want to definitely enhance the sponsorship and the company’s engagement this year,” O’Malley said. “Last year, Jimmie came out to speak to our sales leaders. This year Jimmie will be in the Horsham (PA) home office area and we will be running a wellness challenge up here in August, tying into his appearance at Pocono Raceway.”

“I think it’s going to be a really well-attended event in this area. We’re working out the details right now with Hendrick Motorsports to have the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet here in our parking lot on the way up to the Pocono race.”

For O’Malley, the relationship with Jimmie Johnson and the JJF Foundation is not only a corporate commitment but also a personal one.

“I’ve been a NASCAR fan since I was a teenager,” O’Malley said. “My first favorite NASCAR driver was Bill Elliott. When he retired, I became a big Jeff Gordon fan and now with him retiring, I’m keeping the 24 and now I’m going back to an Elliott.”

So, what are Penn Mutual’s hopes and dreams for this year’s sponsorship as they get well with Jimmie Johnson and the Foundation?

“We are hoping to get even more engagement with our corporate teams and even connecting in a stronger way with each other through the wellness initiatives,” O’Malley said. “It’s been fun for us because when you think of Penn Mutual, we have our associates here in our home office in Pennsylvania, but we have about another 400 associates scattered throughout the country.”

“So, being able to come up with ways for them to connect to our key corporate initiatives is a great way for us to expand our reach. We’re able to have participation from as far away as California to Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

“If we can take that to the next level this year would be a great accomplishment.”

And for Penn Mutual, there is an added benefit beyond connection and wellness. The company also has the opportunity to help raise funds for children in need.

“Jimmie and his team really do a tremendous job with the Foundation and connecting back with the community. Being able to be a part of the Wellness Challenge and what the Foundation does to help children and education is most rewarding.

“We couldn’t be happier with this relationship.”

For more information on the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Wellness Challenge, visit and for more information on Penn Mutual visit


** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c) **

Mary Jo has lived and breathed racing since her days at local dirt tracks. From her vantage in the pits, she has developed an interest and expertise in all levels of racing, from go karts to the Cup Series. Many of her articles focus on the "behind the scenes" racing world, as well as up and coming drivers. Mary Jo enjoys writing about the people that make NASCAR and racing work on a day-to-day basis. She recently won an NMPA award for spot news writing. Mary Jo can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

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