Mike McCarthy: Part of a successful recipe at HOT

By Phil Whipple,
RaceON.com Staff Writer. Photo By Davis Root

Day Motorsports Feature Driver of the Week:

HUTTO, Texas — Most race fans realize it takes a skilled team to run a successful short track facility. The most obvious members of any speedway staff include the flagman, race director, the unlucky chap who handles technical inspection, and of course, those who prepare the track surface for competition. 

Yet behind the scenes, in the front office and quite often on the phone at home, are people who toil away at work that’s just as important. For 53-year-old Mike McCarthy, the marketing director at Heart O’ Texas (HOT) Speedway, getting ready for a new season means lots of work. 

McCarthy is part of a highly-skilled and dedicated team in Elm Mott, working with the track’s partners as the historic oval gets set to begin its 56th consecutive season of racing this Friday (March 4) night. When fans start to file in and cars roll out for Hot Laps, this lifelong race fan acts just like a big kid. 

“It’s always an exciting time when a new season kicks off at Heart O’ Texas Speedway,” McCarthy said via telephone Monday evening after chatting with Rodney Rodriguez and Bobby Chaffee on the Revved Up Sports Show. “The atmosphere there is amazing, thanks to plenty of side-by-side racing. 

“That high-banked 1/4-mile, the lights, the way the show is presented, it all just combines for a very exciting atmosphere. It’s a place where families go to be entertained, to relax and to forget about things that may be troubling them. It’s an escape, and we take great pride in the fan experience at HOT.” 

Spend one Friday evening at the high-energy HOT Speedway this year, and you’ll notice they have no shortage of support from local businesses. That’s because McCarthy works to ensure they all get plenty of bang for their buck. 

“We have a family of about 30 marketing partners on board, covering just about every type of local business you can imagine,” he explained. “It’s a blessing and an honor to represent them at the track. We want them to feel at home at the track, and to know we’re working to provide exposure for them.  

“We have a business to run, bills to pay and it gets expensive to do it all right. So we need that revenue to continue bringing high-quality racing to our fans. I feel like we do that every week, and our partners know we can connect them to brand-loyal consumers in a captive environment. It works out very well.”

If you’ve ever wondered what a marketing guy does at the track, or how important that role is within the overall package, a short conversation with McCarthy can inform you. He’s humble, but smart. 

“I do my best to bring in new partners and make sure the ones we have are happy to be involved,” he explained. “They have to justify whatever level of involvement they choose. We have every level of partner you can imagine, and we’ll work with them at any budget level. Each one is very important.

“Some just want signage along the track, others may choose to sponsor a specific division, a night of racing, or even entertain their valued customers at the track. We can accommodate them no matter how they’d like to get involved. Motorsports marketing is a proven, effective tool to generate new business.”

When a partner signs on at HOT, they can rest assured — they’ll get plenty of effort put into getting their brand in front of race fans. It’s what keeps McCarthy energized all throughout the season. 

“We race every week at HOT, rather than the other-other-week format a lot of tracks choose. So that’s a lot of nights to balance, to make sure people are pleased with our efforts and reaching our fans. I am surrounded by great people at HOT, so the job is always fun. I’m a lifelong race fan, and love my job.”

When a man (or woman for that matter) loves what they do, it shows. It reflects in their performance and how they interact with colleagues. For McCarthy, being on the HOT team is a source of great pride.

“I’m blessed to be part of something very special at Heart O’ Texas Speedway,” he added. “It’s a place know for great racing, legendary racers and some exciting side-by-side action. I can’t wait for the green flag to drop on Friday night, and to see those fans get up and cheer. It’s time to go racing again.” 

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