NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. – When Florida businessman Rod Wortham founded Race Face Brand Development ahead of the 2017 season, his goal was straightforward.
Wortham wanted to change the landscape in racing for drivers who might not think they have a shot at the top levels of the sport.
Two years later, that mission is beginning to become a reality.
Wortham’s marketing, branding and advertising agency has steadily become a respected force within the industry, working to propel both rising stars and recognizable names up the ladder with scouting and additional support from well-known NASCAR spotter and development coach Lorin Ranier.
Drivers like NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series young guns Sheldon Creed and Anthony Alfredo, rising midget and late model star Jesse Love and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East point leader Sam Mayer have all worked with the Race Face program as they’ve built their careers – each to impressive results.
The Race Face Brand Development network includes media skills-training programs, webinar coaching, career blueprint mapping, charity opportunities and marketing work among its array of offerings for drivers of all ages to utilize, as well as video driver updates and more through the RaceFace.TV platform.
For 59-year-old Wortham, the impetus to build such a brand-development system stemmed from years of involvement in the sport and time spent watching many faces he felt had the talent to make an impact never be able to make it to the level they needed to get to, be it for one reason or another.
“I think most of it came about due to the way that motorsports, in general, has changed. It’s no longer the best drivers that always make it,” said Wortham, the former owner of the Young Guns Inc. memorabilia company. “There’s a certain amount of financial wherewithal that you have to have. Everyone is looking for the next Jeff Gordon, and to be able to attract the type of sponsorship that’s needed to be able to compete at that level, you’ve got to have the total package. You have to be talented on the track, but you have to be talented off the track, as well.
“I wasn’t a driver, so I figured that the best way for me to get involved was to help these young drivers hone their race craft off the track and to build out everything that they need.”
While Wortham’s program started out with just two of the aforementioned names, it quickly expanded, largely on the strength of old-fashioned word-of-mouth efforts.
“It actually started just by helping a couple of drivers. Our first ones were Sam Mayer, who was one of the drivers that Lorin scouted for us, and Jesse Love,” Wortham recalled. “Once we started to realize that, with support, we were better in numbers … we started adding on. The goal was to add five or six drivers over the next couple of years, and that happened really in about five months. Lorin really was a big part in assisting with that growth and none of what we’re doing would be possible without him.
“As we built this up though, people began to realize that being a part of the Race Face driver group could give you an off-track advantage, and it just continued growing from there.”
Wortham currently counts 17 drivers among the Race Face Class of 2019, a far cry from the pair he began with, though both Mayer and Love continue to be a part of the program to the present day.
Among that diverse group, 11 different teams, 16 unique series and two additional driver development programs – Driver’s Edge Development and Toyota Racing Development – are all represented.
Love and Alfredo are Race Face drivers carrying the TRD banner, while Creed, Mayer and JR Motorsports late-model driver Adam Lemke are part of the Chevrolet family through Driver’s Edge Development.
Wortham’s roster has expanded to a point, as well as reached a performance level, that has allowed him to target new drivers based on more specific criteria than he might have in the past.
“It’s an affordable program; it’s not overly expensive to be involved in, but now we’re to the point that we’re able to be selective,” Wortham noted. “It hasn’t been so much of what I have done, but the performance of the drivers involved that has taken it to a whole other level. They are the ones who deserve the credit.
“I can say this, when the Chevrolet Driver’s Edge Development program announced its six drivers, and three of them were Race Face drivers, my phone blew up,” he added. “Everyone wanted to see how to be a part of it. … It was all of a sudden a case where the drivers that we had involved with us brought us a credibility that we thought it would take years to earn and to build.”
One of the drivers who credits Race Face for his rise into the mainstream spotlight is 14-year-old Love, whose growth with the program and on-track performance allowed him to catch the eye of TRD officials, leading to a ride with Keith Kunz Motorsports this season in the POWRi National Midget League ranks.
“In the racing world, it has been clear to me through my career already how important it is to have great branding and management, and I’m able to race well knowing that this is taken care of in all aspects with Race Face,” said Love. “To make it in the racing world you have to be committed, and that’s what Race Face is – committed.”
Due to the abundance of inquiries into the Race Face program in recent months, Wortham and his team have spun off a separate company – Victory Lane Designs – to aid drivers with marketing needs who might not be quite ready for or directly fit into the full Race Face program at the moment.
It’s all in an effort to better prepare drivers with the skills they’ll need to be successful in the business of racing, from the ground all the way up to the national stage.
“We’re doing things for drivers at the grassroots of racing that a lot of drivers don’t get experience with until they get to the Xfinity Series or the Cup Series level,” Wortham said. “I think that’s going to help them along … but our goal continues to be to connect all the dots and turn the things that we’re doing off the track into dollars that will help drivers be able to move up the ranks.
“We want to change that game and help drivers get the sponsorship they need to push forward,” he continued. “I don’t need people to know who I am, necessarily, but we want people to know who our drivers are from the fact that they’re making waves and climbing that ladder.”
In his pursuit of that end goal, did Wortham ever envision his effort multiplying as quickly as it has?
“Never. Not at all,” he admitted. “It’s blessings upon blessings.”12