Rock meets racing at Richmond

NASCAR meets the Billboard pop charts this weekend at the Richmond International Raceway's Chevrolet Rock and Roll 400. In conjunction with the Warner Music Group's roster of artists, RIR and Chevy are presenting a series of concerts by top...

NASCAR meets the Billboard pop charts this weekend at the Richmond International Raceway's Chevrolet Rock and Roll 400. In conjunction with the Warner Music Group's roster of artists, RIR and Chevy are presenting a series of concerts by top grossing artists Sugar Ray, Hootie and the Blowfish, Uncle Kracker and Trapt.

In addition to the trackside concerts, various drivers will sport the bands images on their cars as part of a special paint scheme program with Action Performance. Among the pairings are Robby Gordon and Trapt, Kevin Harvick and Sugar Ray, Michael Waltrip and Hootie and the Blowfish and Joe Nemechek and Uncle Kracker, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Staind, and Steve Park and Third Eye Blind.

The artists and record industry people involved are not only utilizing NASCAR as a valuable marketing tool, but are also huge fans of the sport.

"I'm a big fan of NASCAR," said Victoria Wenzel, booking agent for Sugar Ray, Uncle Kracker and Trapt. "I have been coming to races for a long time, and it has been a dream of mine to put a concert package like this together. It's such a great marketing opportunity for us to pair our bands with an organization like NASCAR.

"An event like this gives us a different kind of exposure than we get on MTV or Top-40 radio. It allows the performer's to get out in front of a crowd that may be familiar with their music, but wouldn't necessarily pay to purchase a concert ticket. I feel like we are reaching a whole new demographic this weekend. It's really exciting for me, and for the guys."

Darius Rucker, lead singer of the Grammy award winning band Hootie and the Blowfish forged a friendship with driver Michael Waltrip several years ago, and is a convert to NASCAR racing.

"I love NASCAR," said Rucker. "We're really excited."

Rucker did a commercial for NASCAR last season, as part of their celebrity "how bad have you got it" advertisements -- and performed as a solo artist at the 2002 Pepsi 400 in Daytona. With his band, Hootie, he also performed as the musical act for the 2002 Busch Series banquet.

Mark McGrath, lead singer of the multi-platinum selling pop band Sugar Ray, already had ties within the NASCAR garage before signing on to be emblazoned on Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet. Sugar Ray bass player, Murphy Karges' father works Roush Industries, whose CEO, Jack Roush, is the owner of four Winston Cup teams; including series leader Matt Kenseth's No. 17 Ford.

Sugar Ray kicks off the festivities this evening after the Busch Series Funai 250. Uncle Kracker, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Trapt perform trackside prior to the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 Saturday.

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Steve Park , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Robby Gordon , Jack Roush