Energetic, enthusiastic, open, honest and thinking about more than winning on the race track.
Those were some of the most obvious takeaways from a Zoom session with a multiple award-winning rapper, songwriter and record producer – legally named Armando Christian Perez – and members of the media on Tuesday afternoon.
Pitbull, as he is known worldwide, is the latest member of the NASCAR team owner club via his investment in Trackhouse Racing. He joined co-owner Justin Marks and driver Daniel Suarez to discuss his reasons and big picture plans for getting involved in the sport.
In addition to his music, Pitbull is heavily involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs to help children develop better learning and problem-solving abilities. For the past eight years, he has been an ambassador of opening several SLAM (Sports Leadership and Management) Charter Schools to further those initiatives in several cities.
Now, as a part owner of a NASCAR team, the Miami native sees a bigger value than just winning races.
“I never put my face next to anything for propaganda.” Pitbull said. “There has to be the grassroots of it, something that’s real. Because if it’s not real, clearly, we’re going to see that in the near future, which is not going to be the case.
“We’re all here. We’re all on the same page, all about an initiative of bringing everybody together. Utilizing our stories of basically coming from nothing to something, from negative to positive and how we can utilize the platform of NASCAR to do so.
“That’s what I’m all about. Especially in these times we’re living in right now. The most important thing is to let everybody know out there there’s only one most important race, it’s the human race. Through the cars, through our stories, we just want everybody to enjoy and we’re going to utilize it as a form of uniting everybody out there.
“When Daniel, Ty (Norris, team president) and Justin and I sat down, clearly there’s no hidden agenda here. It’s all about winning. It’s all about creating a successful team, it’s all about creating sponsorship around Daniel, it’s about believing in Daniel. We all sat at the table wanting more than that. That, to me, is priceless.”
Saying he’s been a fan of NASCAR since seeing the movie “Days of Thunder,” Pitbull saw something more than cars going in circles. After more meetings with Norris, Marks and Suarez; the vision of NASCAR being a culture inspired him to step into the sport.
“That’s why I wanted to get involved, because I see it’s a higher calling,” Pitbull said. “It’s about utilizing the culture, creating the culture through NASCAR to bring people together. I know it because I live it, I’ve seen it.
“Music is a universal language. When I’m out there performing for everybody, it doesn’t matter whether you speak English, Spanish, Chinese, Italian; if you are black, white, pink, purple or orange. It doesn’t matter. We all speak music when we’re there.”
“If there’s anything we need in these times right now is something that unites people, not divides people. That’s what we’re here to do with this platform/opportunity.”
Pitbull was made aware of Suarez and his driving abilities about 10 years ago when Suarez was competing in his native Mexico. They were introduced via a mutual family friend at concerts and events to begin their association.
Marks has been striving to become a team owner for several years and making no secret of his goal. When the opportunity to meet with Pitbull and discuss an ownership possibility with his newly-formed team, Marks knew the involvement was going to be more than Mr. Worldwide singer lending a face and name to the effort.
“He’s been fantastic from day one,” Marks said.” Really, from the first moment we sat down and started talking about it, it became apparent that our missions were aligned. There were so many elements of what both of us were trying to achieve that were consistent with each other. It just felt so natural, serendipitous almost.
“He’s been asking questions, been engaged and excited. I’ve been sending him pictures of the equipment coming together and the pit crew practicing. He’s very, very excited. He’s looking forward to really helping out a lot, being an asset, being someone that can kind of take our platform to as many people globally as possible.
“Obviously, he’ll be at Daytona (Pitbull was announced as the Grand Marshall for this year’s Daytona 500), at Miami and a few more races this year. I think he’s kind of in a mode where he wants to learn. I think he’s humble enough to know that he’s got a lot to learn about this sport.
“He’s been very engaged. He’s going to be a great partner.”