For a small team like the one owned by veteran NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek, sponsorship literally keeps his race car on the track. So for this season Nemechek’s No. 87 Nationwide and Cup cars are being fueled by a new relationship with, of all things, a tea company.
“Getting involved with the Herbal Mist Tea brand has been a neat opportunity for me,” Nemechek said. “I met Greg (Piagesi, one of the founders of Herbal Mist) and the other part of his team about a year ago here in Dover.”
“He’s a former driver and it’s just interesting meeting them,” Nemechek continued. “They said they were working on some teas and doing this and that.”
“Well, I’m a big unsweetened tea drinker,” Nemechek said. “They said they didn’t have any unsweetened teas, instead doing all kind of flavored teas and diet teas and regular sweet teas.”
“I said to them ‘Man you need to get an unsweetened tea because there are a lot of us out there and you can’t find a good unsweetened tea in a convenience store or supermarket,” Nemechek continued. “So, they worked for a long time on formulas, sending samples back and forth to me and finally hit it.”
“Now, they are producing it and selling it,” Nemechek said. “It’s pretty cool.”
“It has my number on it and the checkered flag top.”
Nemechek fancies himself as somewhat of an unsweetened tea connoisseur, especially as he grew up in a tea drinking family.
“I love tea,” Nemechek said. “I grew up as a kid drinking tea.”
“My mom used to brew our own tea and our family is big unsweet tea drinkers.”
Nemechek believes that things happen in life for a reason and he is convinced that this partnership with Herbal Mist tea has been one of those fateful events in his life.
“You meet people and certain things are meant to happen and that’s just one of these deals,” Nemechek said. “Now I’ve got a tea that has my picture and my car on it.”
“I helped develop it, am in the middle of it, and am drinking it every day,” Nemechek continued. “It’s good stuff.”
Nemechek acknowledged that a sponsorship like this means a great deal to a team like his. He also shared that he was proud to bring Herbal Mist to the NASCAR table in order to grow the sport overall.
“In this day and time, getting companies involved in NASCAR is very, very important,” Nemechek said. “This program with the Herbal Mist tea brand is unique.”
“It’s not only a financial thing as far as them helping out team, but it’s developing a product for the future,” Nemechek continued. “It’s something you see some of the top actors involved in that have certain branded products.”
“This is one of the first ones to do that for me, so it’s neat.”
Nemechek speculated a bit about why the folks at Herbal Mist decided to invest in him and in his race team.
“That’s probably a question you need to ask them but if you ask me, just seeing me as I am,” Nemechek said. “What you see is what you get.”
“I’m not a flashy guy,” Nemechek continued. “I’m pretty simple.”
“Man, I’ve been doing this long enough that I don’t get into all the other BS that goes along in this,” Nemechek said. “I always try to be honest and try to tell the truth.”
“I’m always trying to make stuff better, whether it’s the race car, products or whatever,” Nemechek continued. “I think they see a good, honest, hard-working guy that’s just an average Joe that wants to do well and has always been an underdog.”
One of the characteristics that Herbal Mist no doubt admires most about Joe Nemechek, as do his fans, is his perseverance. And Nemechek admitted that, in addition to sponsorship, he can persevere because of his love of the sport.
“It’s got to be the love for it because right now it’s really, really tough trying to keep a Cup team, a Nationwide team and my son racing,” Nemechek said. “There are just so many irons in the fire.”
“It’s really tough trying to make the financial part of it add up,” Nemechek continued. “Some days I wonder because I can tell you my bank account is not going up every week.”
“But we are so pleased with Herbal Mist stepping up because it does matter to our racing each and every week.”
While Nemechek sees some improvement in the economy, he advised that it is still tough out there, especially for a small team. He admitted that it was also hard to have been at the top in the good times and now be struggling during these more challenging times.
“It’s still really tough but we see a little bit of movement and a little bit of light,” Nemechek said. “But until things start happening, a lot of these companies have their marketing budgets locked down right now.”
“If they ever let it go, we’re just trying to persevere and be there for when it does flow,” Nemechek continued. “We’re a small team that offers a huge value for a small price tag.”
“When the recession hit, it hit everybody but as a race team we had to learn to do a lot more with a lot less,” Nemechek said. “And a lot of the other teams did too.”
“But from a guy who has won championships, and 16 or 18 Nationwide races, 4 Cup races, we’ve been on top,” Nemechek continued. “And then to be on the bottom and say how are we going to keep the business going, it’s a whole new learning experience.”
“I think we’ve done that very successfully.”
Nemechek also shared that he has gotten good at juggling, thanks in large part to his wife and family. And he is also the proud papa of son John Hunter, who is launching his own racing career.
“It is a lot to keep track of and I get really stressed sometimes,” Nemechek said. “I’ve got a great wife and family that support me and know this is what I want to do.”
“They if I wasn’t doing this, I would be miserable.”
For Nemechek, survival in the sport of NASCAR has always been thanks to his family, as well as surrounding himself with the best people. And that includes his new sponsor Herbal Mist, who has had the faith to fuel his race team.
“There are certain things you believe in that are right and good,” Nemechek said. “And this is one of those products.”
“I never put my name as long as I’ve been racing on something I didn’t believe in,” Nemechek continued. “This is a product that is good and is good for you.”
“I’m honored to be a part of it.”