Industry Spotlight: Motorsports and Automotive
As the focal point of the nation’s motorsports industry and the home of Charlotte Motor Speedway, Cabarrus County provides the perfect environment for racing teams, automotive companies and related businesses to thrive.
More than 200 businesses in the county provide support to the motorsports industry, and more than 90 percent of NASCAR teams are within approximately 50 miles. Why do motorsports companies continue to choose Cabarrus County as their home base, and what benefits does the county provide?
In 1984, Hendrick Motorsports began renting space adjacent to the company’s current location, noted Scott Lampe, Chief Financial Officer with Hendrick and Chairman of the Board of Cabarrus Economic Development. He said the company chose the space because a supporting partner — a crew chief with whom Hendrick wanted to work — was nearby.
With the company’s singular focus on winning races and championships, Hendrick executives looked to Cabarrus County as the “center of the world for stock car racing,” Lampe noted.
“The talent pool is very unique,” he said. “Most of the motorsports talent in the United States has congregated to Cabarrus and the greater Charlotte area.” He added that the company continues to stay in Cabarrus because of the lower cost of living for employees and the business-friendly local government and economic development team, which has helped with expansions over the years.
The greater Charlotte area is definitely the place to be for the motorsports industry, Lampe said, and he cited favorable traffic, amenities, cost of living, taxes and local government as specific attractions to Cabarrus County. “These are the best in this area and some of the best in the Southeast,” he said.
Qualified labor, affordable housing, proximity to race industry suppliers and convenient access to both Concord Regional Airport and Charlotte Douglas International Airport were among Cabarrus County’s attributes for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Valerie Draeger with Trilliad Development, Inc., who assisted Stewart-Haas in navigating the county, noted, “We were looking for a location that would hold its value, had expansion capability, had adequate utility and road infrastructure in place, and that had incentives available.”
The Cabarrus Economic Development staff helped the company choose among potential properties it had selected, identifying the ones that would meet the requirements of the business. In addition, Draeger noted, “The staff helped to identify the incentives that were available for the different locations from the county and the (nearby) cities.” From the provided information, the company selected its current location in Kannapolis.
With a goal of creating a facility that would help Stewart-Haas build a winning NASCAR team at the best possible cost as well as provide a showcase for sponsors and fans, the company chose Cabarrus County for its many attributes and for the incentives offered.
The city provided full support to get the project approved quickly to meet the company’s schedule and expectations, Draeger said. She added that the Cabarrus County Tax Assessor’s Office also provided assistance with filling out the necessary grant forms.
“Applying for the incentives promised can be a very painful part of the process,” Draeger said, “and many times leaves a company receiving the incentive wondering if it’s worth it.”
For both Stewart-Haas Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, Cabarrus County has provided a variety of incentives and amenities to make it the ideal location to prosper in the motorsports industry.