Sunday, June 23, 2024

Stephen Mallozzi, Outback Steakhouse join forces for Bristol

Drivers with backing from companies with whom they’re affiliated is not a new phenomenon, as showcased with the so-called “pay driver”. While Stephen Mallozzi‘s #22 AM Racing Ford F-150 will be sponsored by his employer Outback Steakhouse for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on 14 September, it is far from the same scenario and is actually quite a unique case. If anything, being a pay driver would have meant he didn’t need to make the sacrifices that he has to get to this point in his career.

Mallozzi is not a higher-up at Outback nor does his family have any involvement with it. Instead, he is a rank-and-file employee like any of his colleagues, working as a server at various locations to earn a living when he isn’t racing. While motorsport is obviously an expensive endeavour, Mallozzi still lacks the funding that his peers typically have, even reaching the point where he had to sell his personal car to afford racing at Gateway in June.

After the Martinsville Truck event in April, he drew attention on social media for a post highlighting how he arrived at the track in the morning, competed in the race, then returned home early the next day for his shift. An Outback executive eventually reached out to Mallozzi to arrange a sponsorship deal for Bristol.

“To have worked for a company that supports its employees like this is pretty awesome,” said Mallozzi. “I’ve always had a great relationship with all of my bosses, and to finally get a deal done is an incredible feeling. I’m also very excited to return to AM Racing because I expect us to keep improving our relationship. I can’t thank all the guys at AM Racing, Outback Steakhouse, and Josh Reaume enough for putting this opportunity together for me.”

Bristol will be his third start for AM Racing after Martinsville and Pocono. He raced for Reaume Brothers Racing at Gateway, and made his Truck Series début with them at Mid-Ohio in 2022 where he scored his best finish to date of twenty-second. AM and RBR are technical allies.

Outback Steakhouse, an American chain of Australian-themed restaurants, sponsored Cup Series team Stewart-Haas Racing from 2012 to 2019, appearing on the #39 of Ryan Newman followed by his successor Kevin Harvick’s #4. During this stretch, the company ran a promotion in which a free Bloomin’ Onion would be available for diners if Newman and Harvick recorded a top-ten finish the Monday after a race. The restaurant also appeared on the #67 car of future Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for his Xfinity Series début in 1990.