- Senior writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com
- 2-time Sports Emmy winner
- 2010, 2014 NMPA Writer of the Year
Darlington Raceway has signed Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall in the first lengthy name, image and likeness partnership between a NASCAR racetrack and a college football player.
Atlanta Motor Speedway has done one-off social media promotions with a trio of Georgia football players to promote its most recent NASCAR Cup Series events, but McCall’s NIL agreement with Darlington Raceway, NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway, is for a full year.
McCall will promote the racetrack’s annual Labor Day race weekend, including a NASCAR “Crown Jewel” event — the Southern 500 on Sept. 4 — as the face of the speedway’s marketing campaigns, which will include the use of his social media channels.
The deal also extends into the promotion of the racetrack’s full 2023 schedule of events. McCall was at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday, shooting the first photos and video for the campaign. The Chanticleers open their 2022 season Sept. 3 at Army. The green flag for the 73rd edition of the Southern 500 is scheduled 23 hours later, at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Coastal Carolina University, in Conway, South Carolina, is located only 65 southeast of Darlington Raceway, and McCall’s hometown of Indian Trail, North Carolina, a Charlotte suburb, is 80 miles to the northwest.
Fans attending NASCAR events at Darlington have long used Myrtle Beach, next door to Coastal Carolina, as their chosen hotel spot. Darlington Raceway president Kerry Tharp also has deep ties to the college football world, serving as sports information director for two decades at the University of South Carolina, where he worked with the likes of Lou Holtz and Steve Spurrier.
McCall, a junior, has posted a 20-2 record as the Chanticleers’ starting quarterback and set the NCAA FBS record last season with a passer efficiency rating of 207.6, breaking the mark set by Alabama’s Mac Jones in 2020.
After winning back-to-back Sun Belt Player of the Year awards and being named a Maxwell Award semifinalist, the draft-eligible redshirt junior chose to stay in college one more season.
“We have our own unique way of doing things at Coastal Carolina,” the face-painted, long-haired McCall said last month on ESPN Radio’s Marty & McGee one month ago, speaking of a team known for it’s WWE-style locker room celebrations, mullets and a uniquely old-school spread triple option offense. “I don’t want to leave yet because I fit here and here fits me.”
Sponsorship from NASCAR’s oldest, grittiest speedway feels like a natural addition to that fit.
“His playing style exemplifies toughness and competitiveness,” Tharp said. “He is the ideal athlete to help promote Darlington’s ‘Too Tough To Tame’ brand.”
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