We’ve all had memorable ‘firsts’ at some point in our lives: a first day of school, a first date, the first day of a new job, or some other significant event that perhaps became a turning point.
That ‘first’ came for NASCAR driver Chase Briscoe on March 13 when he scored his first win in the top tier of the sport, the Cup series. It was something that came after a nearly lifelong journey just to get a chance to be on the grid in the premier stock car racing motorsport in the world.
“Seven years ago, I was sleeping on couching, ready to give up,” the Indiana native said fighting back tears as he stood at the start-finish line at Phoenix Raceway after winning on that Sunday. “They gave me an opportunity and it’s led to this.”
The “they” was Stewart-Haas Racing who gave Briscoe the chance in the Cup series starting in 2021. That chance culminated in the first victory in his 40th Cup race with the organization co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart, a fellow Indiana native and a hero of Briscoe who also raced the same number the team gave him, the No. 14.
That win was also another first for Briscoe, and Stewart.
Mahindra Tractors signed on with Stewart-Haas to sponsor Briscoe at the end of 2021. It seemed a somewhat odd pairing when first announced. Mahindra Ag North America is based in Houston and is part of Mahindra Group’s Automotive and Farm Sector but Mahindra & Mahindra Limited is a multinational automotive manufacturing conglomerate headquartered in India and in 2020 was 17th on the Fortune India 500 list.
Yet at the season opening Daytona 500 earlier this year, there was the No. 14 clad in red, the colors of the Mahindra Tractors brand. And at Phoenix Raceway just a month later the same colors could be seen on the No. 14 sitting at the start-finish line after winning.
Briscoe said this past week that he’s always had a great relationship with his sponsors and working with Mahindra has been fun. But they’ve also been another first for him.
“It’s really the first time I’ve been aligned, with the exception of maybe one or two times, with an actual consumer brand,” he said. “You look at HighPoint, for example, it’s not as much of a consumer play, it’s more of a B2B thing, whereas Mahindra is trying to sell tractors to fans; that’s something that I haven’t really had at the higher levels of NASCAR is a consumer brand as a sponsor. “
Since the Daytona 500, Mahindra has been all in on its NASCAR activation. It started with commercials during the 500 that were full of lighthearted banter between Stewart and Briscoe and featured Stewart lifting up the No. 14 Ford, with Briscoe behind the wheel, with one of the company’s tractors. It ended with Briscoe calling his childhood hero, an ‘old goat.’
“It’s been cool to see the approach and what they’re trying to do to correlate that over to tractor sales,” Briscoe said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”
“They are obviously investing a lot, not only with the race team, but with our broadcast partners and things like that,” he added. “I feel like it’s only helping my brand to let people see my personality in these commercials and things like that, so it’s been really cool.”
On March 13, just four races into their first season Mahindra Tractors was front and center in NASCAR’s Cup series as Briscoe celebrated his first win, and the first for Mahindra. It most likely won’t be the last for either Briscoe or the new sponsor. And while there will never be another first time, both are now looking towards the future and what comes next.
“We’re not done doing stuff yet,” Briscoe said. “There are still a lot of cool things coming down the pipe and hopefully we’ll be able to announce some of that soon. It’s just been a lot of fun for me to see how enthusiastic they are about this race team deal… it’s been a lot of fun.”