The personnel decisions Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced last week, including making his sister the CEO of all his business interests, apparently weren’t a step to prepare for expansion down the road.
That’s because the expansion is already taking place. Alas, and much to the disappointment of the NASCAR Hall of Famer’s racing fans, this isn’t about moving JR Motorsports into the Cup Series, long the subject of speculation. But it is about growing in an area where Earnhardt is already winning.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Dirty Mo Media, which already produces popular motorsports podcasts, has signed a contract with Cadence13 to expand its offerings, Axios.com reported.
The deal, which reportedly runs into seven figures financially, will expand the Dirty Mo offerings beyond NASCAR and into other sports. A podcast focused on Southeastern Conference football is likely to be one of the first new offerings. Additionally, the company will develop more video content for both television and YouTube to capitalize on the success of the Lost Speedways series Earnhardt hosted on Peacock.
Aside from hosting the Dale Jr. Download podcast and analyzing races for NBC, Earnhardt calls the shots for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and has various other business interests coordinated through DEJ Management. As such, he had already put responsibility for Dirty Mo Media in the hands of longtime friend Mike Davis. Last week, Earnhardt named Davis the media division’s president and executive producer.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. predicts a fun year ahead
Though Dale Jr. Download and Door Bumper Clear are the best-known shows of the bunch, Dirty Mo Media already produces four podcasts per week. The new arrangement with Cadence 13, part of an inevitable expansion, will bring the total to seven before the year is over.
“The first big step was putting Mike (Davis) in a position so that he could execute his vision, make important hires, and begin building new shows that he and I want to make,” Earnhardt said in a statement. “The next year is going to be a lot of fun as we ramp up production.”
Davis is banking on the Earnhardt brand to fuel interest in the expanded offerings.
Earnhardt is “one of those athletes that transcends sports, and there’s not a lot of them out there,” Davis told the website.
Athletes are increasingly calling the shots in media
The collaboration between Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s media arm and Cadence13, the New York-based production division of Audacy, makes sense. Cadence13 already distributes more than 75 podcasts, including The Tony Kornheiser Show and Skip and Shannon: Undisputed. Whereas NASCAR is spending $30 million to move media operations out of downtown Charlotte to nearby Concord, North Carolina, Dirty Mo Media will be able to rely upon Audacy’s resources to help grow.
Earnhardt has already established an impressive beachhead in the motorsports niche of media production, but he’s hardly alone when it comes to athletes leveraging their credentials on the field to go into the entertainment business.
LeBron James got a big jump on active players with his SpringHill company. When James and partner Maverick Carter sold a piece of SpringHill last fall, it set the value of the company at $725 million.
Meanwhile, James, Tom Brady and Michael Strahan have gone into business with filmmaker Gotham Chopra to form Religion of Sports, a production company that Axios reported raised $50 million in new funding last year.
Got a question or observation about racing? Sportscasting’s John Moriello does a mailbag column each Friday. Write to him at [email protected]