Just a few years ago, hemp sponsorships were frowned upon in any sport. That‘s why when Richard Childress Racing announced in January that 3CHI would be the anchor partner of Tyler Reddick‘s No. 8 Chevrolet in 2022, it caught many off guard.
The partnership is significant for multiple reasons, but the obvious being it marks the first category-specific team partnership in NASCAR and first hemp-based consumer brand sponsorship across all major professional sports. That brings a lot of new eyeballs to the product.
Torrey Galida, president of Richard Childress Racing, is heavily involved in bringing sponsorship to the race team. When Pocono Raceway announced Pocono Organics CBD would be the entitlement sponsor of the first race of the Pocono doubleheader in 2021, it got Galida‘s head spinning.
“I said to the business development team, ‘Guys, we need to look in this category, it‘s going to do nothing but continue to grow,‘ ” Galida told NASCAR.com. “The laws and regulations are changing around the country and if we can get out in front of this, it would be a really good thing for us.”
RCR isn‘t foreign to being the pioneer of new sponsorship avenues in NASCAR. Last year, it signed BetMGM, which was the first major U.S. sportsbooks to land a deal with a NASCAR team. It also had Jack Daniels as a previous sponsor, one of the only hard liquor companies to sponsor a car in the sport‘s history.
After RCR created a list of potential CBD companies to reach out to, 3CHI responded to the inquiry. Last August for the inaugural race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, the team hosted Justin Journay, founder of 3CHI, as the company is local to Indianapolis.
“I knew of NASCAR, but I didn‘t like NASCAR prior to that race,” Journay said. “It was amazing. I absolutely loved my time at that race. There‘s this misconception that you go fast and turn left. That‘s not what it is. There‘s so much science behind it, and that‘s what really got me. When they walked through the engineering and all of the analytics, being a science nerd myself, I fell in love with it on that aspect.”
Immediately, Journay, who launched 3CHI in July 2018 after learning heavily about hemp for a half year, wanted to be a focal point of sponsorship in the sport.
He also knew that being the first sponsor of his kind could pay dividends.
“We enjoy paving the way in our industry,” he said. “We look at ourselves as a leader and try to maintain that leadership position. The team, too, RCR in general, are great people. It‘s like a family and something you want to be a part of.”
The process to get a hemp sponsor approved by the sanctioning body was fairly thorough. Galida presented NASCAR with the idea face-to-face last September in a meeting at the Charlotte, North Carolina, office. RCR was given guidelines it had to follow in order to receive the sponsor‘s approval, as NASCAR wanted to make sure 3CHI would be in line with the television networks standards and practices.
In December, 3CHI was approved.
Since sponsoring Reddick in the Daytona 500, 3CHI has set up vendor booths at many race tracks. By the time the 2022 season concludes, it will have been set up at 15 different tracks, including Road America, where Reddick picked up his first Cup victory.
The company is even allowed to sell some of its products — pain creams, THC gummies and vape products to name a few — at the track in states that hemp is legal.
“We were nervous going into Daytona when we first did it,” Journay said. “But there hasn‘t been any issues. It‘s been eye-opening in the sense that it‘s really something that should be allowed to be out there more if you can do it responsibility.”
Galida was surprised NASCAR, Speedway Motorsports Inc. and some of the independently owner tracks allowed 3CHI to set up a display booth on their premises.
“They‘ve been really pleased with that; the results have been good and they‘re doing really well on site,” Galida said. “They‘re continuing to invest in their display and it‘s getting better every week. So far for a new sponsor, they‘re doing a really great job.”
This weekend, Journay will return to the site of his initial meeting with RCR. This time around, 3CHI will host approximately 450 people in a suite at Indianapolis, watching Reddick chase another checkered flag.