Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway will feature a little more Southern charm than usual. For instance, the iconic call to “Start your engines!” will come from Uncle Si Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty.
Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) has signed a three-year sponsorship deal for its spring Sprint Cup race with Duck Commander, the Robertson family’s brand of best-selling duck calls and hunting gear. As many as 200,000 fans will take in the Duck Commander 500 Sunday afternoon in person, with millions more watching on television.
The speedway has gone all-in with the West Monroe, La.-based Robertson family. Want some of Uncle Si’s iced tea? Want Duck Commander barbecue sauce, salsa, and beef jerky? They’re all available at track concession stand.
The speedway debuted its Big Hoss TV, dubbed the world’s largest video screen, on March 19 with a free public showing of an episode of Duck Dynasty. About 8,000 people came to see the show on the 20,000-square-foot screen.
“This is perhaps the most unique sponsorship in professional sports, because not only does this come with special branding, it comes with celebrity spokespeople that are followed by tens of millions of people every week,” Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said in early February at the sponsorship’s announcement. “This marriage is perfection.”
The Texas speedway, located near Fort Worth, is known for its non-traditional but profitable business moves. The National Rifle Association sponsored this same race last year. “This is a for-profit agency,” Gossage told USA Today. “I like money.”
The bearded stars of Duck Dynasty aren’t strangers to NASCAR, either. Driver Clint Bowyer featured the men on the hood of his car in a Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International race track last August. This weekend, more than half-a-dozen Robertsons will participate in the festivities. Missy Robertson (Jase’s wife) will sing the national anthem, and Uncle Si will serve as the grand marshal. Duck Commander CEO Willie Robertson will present the wooden boot trophy to the race winner in Victory Lane.
Patriarch Phil Robertson gets to wave the green flag. But before all that, he and oldest son Alan Robertson, a former pastor, will speak at Racing with Faith, the speedway’s Sunday grandstand event that some call a worship service. The speedway and Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries started Racing with Faith last year. “It’s still growing today, so we’re excited about it,” the speedway’s director of ticket sales Robert Miller told me Friday.
Phil and Alan Robertson will be joined by racing journalist and commentator Wendy Venturini and NASCAR rookie Justin Allgaier. “The speedway has instructed us and told us that we have the opportunity to share God’s Word and share our Christian faith with people openly,” ministry director Roger Marsh told me. Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries has hosted frequent services in the speedway’s campgrounds since 1997.