Denver’s Furniture Row Racing doubling its workload – The Denver Post
The 40,000 square feet at 4000 Forest Street in northeast Denver soon will accommodate twice as much of everything.That’s a smorgasbord of race cars, parts and intelligent people at Furniture Row Racing.
The NASCAR team announced Aug. 7 that it will add driver Erik Jones and the No. 77 Toyota to become a two-car team next season — joining the Martin Truex Jr.-driven No. 78. And, following last week’s bye in the Sprint Cup Series, the expansion process is in high gear. NASCAR’s only big-league race shop based outside the Carolinas is being remodeled inside, with each area of building a race car adjusted to accommodate two cars, side-by-side. New offices to accommodate approximately 40 more employees also will be built.
“Who would have ever thought — a two-car NASCAR team out of Colorado?” said FRR general manager Joe Garone, a Colorado native along with team owner Barney Visser. “I can’t speak for Barney, but certainly for me, from Day One I would have never dreamed to have this opportunity. Because of Barney’s leadership and undying desire to succeed, he’s been able to put the resources behind us to get this done.”
Speaking from his shop office, Garone said there will be some crossover with parts and people, but both cars will be built equally with the best products available. His employee search is international, including Canada and Australia, and he’s looking at résumés of engineers from various forms of racing.
“We’ve been modifying the shop for about six months — gradually,” Garone said. “Whether we run a second team or not we were probably inefficient, the way we had the shop laid out. We had extra room, knowing in the back of our minds we were capable of running a second car. Now that we actually have a second car, it’s crunch time. We’re picking up the pace. It’s going to be about the perfect size to run two cars.”
Jones, 20, won NASCAR’s truck series in 2015 and has a series-high three wins in the second-tier Xfinity circuit this year. He is under contract with FRR’s alliance partner, four-car Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), this season but signed just a one-year deal with FRR next year. Garone said with or without Jones in 2018 and beyond, FRR will continue to field two cars.
“We have a plan in place to look at other options in the event that we lose Jones,” Garone said. “We’ve got a team now that has a platform that can support additional income from sponsors, which we’ve just never been a part of because Barney’s companies (Furniture Row, Denver Mattress) have sponsored the car. When you win races, you become a pretty good partner and you find people who want to jump on board and advertise their companies with you.”
He added: “We’ve been building a foundation to compete for wins and a championship as well as being able to become a good marketing partner to bring the sponsorship on — not only for the 78 but to run a second car. The goal has not been to have two cars. What we’ve found as we’ve gone alone is, we don’t necessarily have to have a second team to compete for wins and a championship. The goal has been to compete. Period. For wins and a championship. We’re doing that now with the 78.”
A second FRR car next year will generally mean the FRR/JGR Toyota partnership jumps to six cars instead of five. But having a second car built in Denver will help. FRR used to have an alliance with Richard Childress Racing and Chevrolet.
“The relationships we’ve had have worked so well to bridge that (single-car) gap,” Garone said. “It doesn’t mean it won’t help us even more to have another one in-house, because it will. The combined IQ goes up when you add another 40 intelligent people, from engineering to R&D and all the other aspects. That’s just one of the benefits, let alone what happens on the racetrack with your teammates.”
FRR currently employs 64 people, including 48 out of the Denver shop. Truex, spotter Clayton Hughes and lead race engineer Jeff “Jazzy” Curtis live in Charlotte, N.C., along with most of the over-the-wall pit crew.