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Getting to know Todd Rucker, Hendrick Motorsports marketing buyer

Ever wonder who is responsible for outfitting Hendrick Motorsports’ drivers, crew chiefs, crew members and employees? Meet Todd Rucker.

Full name:  Todd Rucker

Nickname:  Trucker. It’s a combination of my first initial and last name.

Birthplace: Lexington, Ky.

Hometown:  Harrisburg, N.C.

Education: Graduated from Central Cabarrus High School in 1987 and took graphic arts at Central Piedmont Community College in North Carolina.

Job title: Marketing buyer is technically what it is, but I use a self-proclaimed name, ‘Buyer of Team Needs.’ Basically I help allocate the spending of sponsor budgets.

Time at current job: 10 years.

Years in racing: 18 years.

First racing job: T-shirt printer for Motorsports Traditions, which is now known as Motorsports Authentics, in 1992.

First job overall: I worked for the Concord Parks and Rec from 1987-1991 running the youth league. I was the supervisor and coordinator.

If he wasn’t in racing he would: Probably be in sports-related apparel somehow.

What else goes into his job: I understand the patterns of a shirt, the cuts of a hat. I basically fine-tune the items by taking existing artwork, putting together something new and communicating with the vendor and the team side to build the team apparel. I’m the mediator between making the product happen, and it can take six to eight weeks—to make a shirt, to make a firesuit, for example—from start to getting the finished product.

What he considers when creating the apparel: Proper colors, the rules and regulations of a logo; the proper way to use it.

What he likes best in a design: I like characters or icons. Kellogg’s is awesome for having characters. They know when to use them. There for awhile we had Snap, Crackle and Pop on the car. Tony the Tiger, of course, was the feature character for awhile, but they would also throw in Corny—Cornelius the Rooster. There are certain rules you have to keep up with with those guys. They have to be certain colors; they have to have a glow about them; they can’t touch other characters and so on.

His favorite logo: I like Pepsi or National Guard. They’re vibrant. The colors being red, white and blue, you can do some things with it.

Biggest change in apparel: Firesuits. Years ago, if a guy got a suit he was a small, medium or large. But nowadays things are custom-made because it’s performance driven. They started taking measurements about five or six years ago.  And still to this day, helmets are still generic sizing.  They can alter it and shave some of the cushion, but they are still standard sizes.

Favorite racing memory:  I remember 1996, being at Atlanta (Motor Speedway) to watch Terry (Labonte) clinch his championship. We were on a truck listening to the radio. It was between him and Jeff (Gordon), and we were ready to print shirts and hats if either won. Well, Terry won so we got busy, and we took the shirts and hats straight to the souvenir trucks and sold them. I don’t think it’s ever been done since. We must have printed thousands of hats and t-shirts for fans to purchase immediately.

Favorite track: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. It’s exciting.  Everything’s in front of you.

Hobbies outside of racing:  Stick and ball sports. I have a body for softball.
Favorite sport other than racing:  Basketball, notably the University of Kentucky.  Go Blue!

Pets: A ferocious Shar-pei Australian Shepherd named ‘Franco.’  He’s not very friendly.
Favorite movies:  “Old School” and “Elf.”

Favorite music: All kinds. Neil Diamond, The Spinners and Blessid Union of Souls. Anything country.

If I could meet anyone, I’d meet: John Wooden. I’m not a UCLA fan but he is someone who has always amazed me because of the way he treats people. He had some of the best talent and rebels, and he got them to work together. In my opinion, Rick Hendrick is from his mold.

Favorite food: Japanese.
He knew he wanted a job in NASCAR when: Actually, I stumbled into it. I basically needed a job, and a friend told me to come work with him at the screen printing job. That’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

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