CONCORD, N.C. – There are many aspects that go into having a smooth and successful race weekend. All the jobs behind the scenes are what make up the big picture on TV every week. One of those jobs belongs to Todd Rucker, the marketing services buyer for Hendrick Motorsports.
This season marks Rucker’s 20th with Hendrick Motorsports. His dedication and commitment to the organization has certainly paid off, as he has seen the plethora of success Hendrick Motorsports has had in the past 20 years. Without Rucker, nothing on the race day would look the same. His job is to provide the many at-track marketing aspects people see, including the apparel the drivers and team members wear.
“I am a buyer for anything that the marketing department would purchase,” said Rucker. “In detail, the apparel the guys wear, the firesuits, the helmets, the pit crew needs, anything that would lead to a wearable item for teams, times four for all of the teams. There’s pit wall banners, and anything that would be taken down and transported to the racetrack.”
The planning for a job like that takes months in the making. Every day, Rucker is preparing the drivers, pit crews and various team members to appear on the track representing Hendrick Motorsports and the organization's partners.
“Watching apparel inventory, taking requests, anyone who has needs across campus, anything executive, anything that falls under that umbrella that would lead to purchasing,” he said. “We work backwards. We try to go, say, two months out.”
For the majority of the races on the schedule, Rucker has time each week to have the necessary items ready for the haulers before they leave from the Hendrick Motorsports campus to head to the racetrack. However, a special circumstance is the West Coast swing. Since haulers are driving to the other side of the country, everything needed for the three races had to be ready and sent on the first haulers out to Las Vegas.
“We have a schedule that we follow," Rucker explained. "Any time we have a discussion, we refer to this schedule. That’s marketing, that’s team related, anything internal, anything external for me. My vendors have a copy of this, and they follow it.
“Las Vegas, that starts the West Coast swing. So, we had to pack the truck for Las Vegas, Phoenix and Fontana. We could have put stuff on later, on another truck because there’s a surplus of supply trucks that run out. But we wanted to make sure they had that stuff on the trucks because they are worried about performance items, not stuff we could have already done for them. So, that’s hats, team shirts, crew firesuits, crew needs, car covers and banners that all go along with the scheme.”
With the countless hours of preparation and work that go toward what fans see every weekend, it is fair to say that everyone at Hendrick Motorsports tries to function like a finely tuned machine to make it all look seamless.
“I pride myself on being a servant,” Rucker said. “I like to work behind the scenes, and I know that’s not for everyone. But that’s what I’m made up to do. I’m not an in-the-spotlight kind of guy. I would rather be the person behind the curtain, and that’s what I get to do.
"It’s a team effort, and it takes us all to make it work.”