[media-credit name=”Photo Credit: Scott Hunter” align=”alignright” width=”226″][/media-credit]Paulie Harraka is not only competing in the Camping World Truck Series and finishing his senior year at Duke but, this weekend, the Rookie of the Year candidate will be taking his Truck high tech at Martinsville.
The native New Jersey driver has a new sponsor partner for his No. 5 Wauters Motorsport Ford F-150, the high tech company MC10. This company reshapes electronics to create thin systems that stretch, bend and flex, including body-worn sensors for high quality data collection.
“We’re really excited,” Harraka said. “MC10 is certainly a company that is at the fore front of high tech development and has such wide reaching applications.”
“When you think about what you could do if you could take all these electronics that we use and make them flexible, you realize there are applications pretty much everywhere.”
MC10, a new company based in Boston, was looking for an innovative marketing platform for their products. After meeting Harraka, they decided that NASCAR would indeed match their company’s needs and agreed to go racing with him at Martinsville, including using him as a bit of a guinea pig for their products.
“MC10 sensors have huge capabilities, from measuring heart rate to anything that we have a way to measure,” Harraka said. “I’ll actually have a sample of their electronics on me during the race.”
“So, the possibilities are almost endless,” Harraka continued. “I know this is the beginning of a long partnership.”
The partnership between MC10 and Harraka actually began at a conference and flourished from there. Although the company was not familiar with NASCAR, it was not a ‘hard sell’ once they reviewed the statistics of the reach of the sport and the loyalty of the fan base.
“When I was up at the Sports Analytics Conference, I met with the CEO of MC10 and he expressed an interest,” Harraka continued. “We explored ways that MC10 technology is applicable to NASCAR.”
“When they began to see how their technology applied to the sport of racing, that’s how the discussion turned to how to promote this,” Harraka said. “And the sponsorship discussion began.”
“While the CEO was not generally a fan of the sport himself, people are generally familiar with the sport and how big the fan base is, how loyal the fan base is and what the reach is,” Harraka continued. “You can bring somebody in and they get it pretty quickly.”
Marrying his business savvy with his racing acumen has been just one of the elements that has made Harraka unique in the NASCAR racing world. And through his education and connections made at Duke, the young driver has been committed to exposing new corporations to the sport.
“One of the hallmarks of what we’ve done is to bring in a lot of business partners,” Harraka said. “And without a doubt, this is a unique way to approach motorsports.”
“On one hand, it’s a great way to raise capital initially,” Harraka continued. “But on the other hand, the big pro to it is to bring these different businesses, with all their accolades, from marketing to venture capitalists, in to learn about NASCAR.”
“They understand very quickly the opportunities and ways to bring their businesses into the sport,” Harraka said. “It’s unique and the payoff is just starting.”
With his new sponsor in hand and planning to attend the upcoming race at Martinsville, Harraka cannot wait to get back to racing after the month-long break since Daytona.
“Daytona was kind of a tease and then you have a lot of time off,” Harraka said. “I would much rather be racing every weekend.”
“But the guys have been hard at work building trucks and getting us ready,” Harraka continued. “After Martinsville, we have a week off but then we go to Rockingham and then, boom, we head to Kansas.”
“So, we go into a little stretch of racing, which is exciting,” Harraka said. “I’m excited to get into the meat of the racing season starting at Martinsville.”
Harraka acknowledged that nothing he learned on the high banks of the superspeedway of Daytona will apply to the paper-clip shaped track at Martinsville. Yet he also feels that he will be returning to his roots, racing on a short track.
“Daytona is most certainly a unique place,” Harraka said. “But all that we learn at Daytona really only applies there and Talladega, so Martinsville will be a completely different animal.”
“But it is definitely one that is more in my element and where I have my experience base,” Harraka continued. “So, I’m excited to get back to a nice little half mile.”
Harraka has no different expectations for his upcoming race weekend than he ever does when he gets behind the wheel. He expects to be in victory circle at the end of the race.
“I expect us to run well,” Harraka said. “I expect that we can run up front and lead laps and that we can bring home a good finish.”
“We’re going to the race track to win and I really do believe that we can come home with a great finish.”
While Harraka may be confident about his race expectations, he is reserving judgment on one Martinsville tradition. He is just not sure about having one of those infamous Martinsville hot dogs.
“We’ll see,” Harraka said. “I’m not sure how my stomach will do with those. So, I make no predictions there.”
Most of all, Harraka looks forward to returning to racing with his new sponsor MC10 on the race truck and cheering him on in the pits.
“I think everyone in this sport recognizes that the best thing for our sport is to bring in more companies that haven’t been involved in our sport,” Harraka said. “To expose them to the power of NASCAR is just exciting.”
“To go outside the reach of a normal motorsports sponsorship and bring in a company totally outside of that to show the value of the sport is great for them,” Harraka continued. “And it’s great for us and for the sport as a whole.”
“I expect that the relationship will grow into a lot of partnerships moving forward,” Harraka said. “We already have some cool things cooking post-Martinsville.”