Only a rookie in the NASCAR Cup Series, Daniel Suárez is focused on the future – in terms of his career, his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team and the sport overall.
So when it comes to NASCAR’s fans – with fluctuating TV ratings and declining race attendance over the years – Suárez remains focused on recruiting kids to the sport. Whether he’ll influence them to pursue a career behind the wheel or in a pit crew or simply join the sport’s fan base, utilizing his platform to connect with kids is a priority.
“Kids are very important to the sport,” Suárez said. “Personally, I really enjoy, a lot, to do things with kids because all these kids, they’re the future for the sport. They’re the new fans, and they’re going to be going to races and they’re going to be pulling for you or for the No. 19.”
Like everything in NASCAR, the 25-year-old Mexican driver’s sponsors often dictate his schedule. But some also have opened doors for him to hang out with young fans.
Earlier this season, he spent time with kids from the University of Kansas Medical Center – and had an honorary pit crew – and drove a car with their names scattered around it. Thanks to his Coca-Cola 600 sponsors – Subway and Disney’s Cars 3, in which he voices a character named Danny Swervez – he also had an event at Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Greater Charlotte last month.
He genuinely enjoys these opportunities because he remembers how unique it was for him in school when Mexican soccer players would visit. Kids remember everything, he said, and when they learn about racing when they’re young, “they’re going to be fans forever.”
“I’m sure in five years, these kids are going to be at the race track pulling for the driver that they met when they were 5-, 7-, 8-years-old,” Suárez said.
“When you are 6-years-old, 7-years-old and you get to meet and see stars from whatever sport – it doesn’t matter if it’s soccer, racing, American football – it doesn’t matter what they do, (but) it means a lot.”