Scott Borchetta & Big Machine Take The Racing World By Storm [Interview]

Scott Borchetta. Photo: by Nathan Morgan for BMLG

Big Machine Label Group has solidified itself as one of the top independent record labels in Nashville and in the country, discovering and signing artists like Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and Lady A. Founder and CEO Scott Borchetta has become one of the top music executives in the industry, but this past year he and Big Machine made the leap beyond music.

Big Machine and Big Machine Distillery have become one of the biggest sponsors in motorsports over the past few years and have made huge strides in making its name in the sport. Borchetta, an avid racing fan and current driver in the Trans Am series, has taken the Big Machine name and created a whole new image for it within the racing world.

“We’re a 10-year overnight success because we’ve been sponsoring races at Indy for the last decade,” Borchetta tells The Sports Credential. “But it takes that much time and a few ‘aha’ moments. You’ve got to be patient in motorsports and you’ve got to understand how it works, what works, and what kind of products work with it. For a lot of years, I did it as a vanity thing. I just wanted us to be there.”

Borchetta started racing motocross as a 9-year-old in southern California. When he discovered he had a talent for it he started competing in BMX in its early years. From there, the next logical move would be to go to motorcycles, but Borchetta’s father wasn’t going to let that happen. At that point, he started racing quarter midgets, which he did for years. But in the mid-90s, Borchetta started racing legend cars and quickly found the success he was looking for.

Brooks & Dunn and Mark Collie started racing legends cars, so I started racing with them and I started winning. I became the state regional champion in legends cars, and won a couple of big races, including one of those televised Charlotte Tuesday night feature races on TV,” he shares. “It was a lot of fun. I decided that if I was ever going to move up to big cars, that was the time to do it.”

Borchetta continues, “In 1998, we started racing in the super truck division at the fairgrounds in Nashville. The first season was terrible, the second season we started to look like we knew what we were doing, and then the third season I finished second in points. I won the next three championships in a row. We won my last championship on Sept. 3, 2005. I opened Big Machine on Sept. 1, 2005, so I knew that was going to be my last race.” Borchetta retired from racing as he put all of his blood, sweat, and tears into creating the now-massive BMLG.

He admits that he started racing too late in life to make a career out of it and wasn’t going to put the early stages of Big Machine in jeopardy after so much work and investment. It wasn’t until he met NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham in 2016 when Borchetta rediscovered his love for driving. Evernham invited him to race and, though weary at first, Borchetta agreed to a track day.

“I went over and did a track day with Ray, At some point he said, ‘Man, you’re pretty good. You should come and race with us.’ But I told him no,” Borchetta explains. “I was flying home thinking about it and ended up talking to my wife about it. She said, ‘Why are you even asking me? Ray wants you to come and race. You’re going to do it, so just go do it.’ That was her way of giving me her blessing. Shortly after I started racing vintage and SVRA series and we started doing really well with that. We ended up winning the group six championship.”

Borchetta currently competes in the Trans Am Series and will be at the inaugural NTT IndyCar Series Music City Grand Prix, of which Big Machine is the title sponsor. On top of that, Borchetta started his own NASCAR Xfinity Series team this year with flagship driver Jade Buford. The Big Machine NASCAR team has seen major success in its first season, racking up 11 top 20 finishes and only failing to finish four out of 18 races.

“I expected us to do this good honestly,” says Borchetta. “Buford is a very talented driver, and Patrick Donahue is a very talented crew chief. It’s taken a minute for them to learn each other, but Patrick has been very smart and protective of Jade while letting him learn the cars.” He continues, “I thought we could run this well, and I think that when I look at the rest of the season, we’re a top 15 threat every week. Once you’re a top 15 threat, you’re a top 10 threat. I can see us getting a couple of top 10 finishes before the end of the season.”

Big Machine Music City Grand Prix IndyCar being craned onto to the rooftop of the Four Seasons Private Residences Nashville. Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Big Machine Label Group

Borchetta’s biggest racing event and achievement, however, will undoubtedly be the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix this weekend (Aug. 6-8). It will be set on a street course through downtown Nashville with the weekend also featuring multiple concerts, a Trans Am Series race, two SRO GT America races, and the highly anticipated IndyCar Grand Prix on Sunday.

“The idea to run downtown started 15 years ago with Joe Mattioli. Joe could never get the right people together or the right traction, but Matt Crews and I were both aware of that idea. Matt was the one who took the baton, and really came up with a great concept and we got the support. It was a great plan, and it worked.”

Once Big Machine and Borchetta’s name were attached to the event, it took off. “The requests for tickets the week leading up to the race have been nonstop,” Borchetta shares.

The hype and excitement for this Grand Prix has been equal or close to that of the Indianapolis 500, but it is the years of work from Borchetta and so many that have made this event a reality. Taking his childhood passion, Borchetta has made it into something not just for himself, but something that could grow into a legitimate business and an experience that could be shared with others.

“It’s been a ton of work, but it’s been very gratifying,” says Borchetta. “We are going to have a knock down, drag out, rock & roll Big Machine Music City Grand Prix party in the streets.”

Steven Boero