Beyond The Track: Mac MacLeod

Drivers. Spotters. Crew chiefs. Pit Crew members. These are all jobs that come to mind when one speaks about NASCAR. Certainly, these folks are on the front lines. This Beyond the Track series will introduce you to a handful of the countless people that play a unique role in bringing NASCAR to the track and TV week in and week out.

Mac MacLeod walks the grid with Michael McDowell prior to the Daytona 500. (Photo Credit: HHP/Chris Owens)

Meet Mac MacLeod, Public Relations Manager & Digital Social Media Manager, Front Row Motorsports

Growing up, Mac MacLeod’s family was passionate about motorsports. His great-grandfather was a stock car driver, as well as a thrill show entertainer. MacLeod reminisced, “He’d be the one jumping through burning hoops or crashing through whatever was set up!”

As a native of Blind River, Ontario, Canada, MacLeod had the opportunity to attend races at Michigan International Speedway. After spending time in the pits and getting to see the sport up close, he set his goal to work within the NASCAR industry.

Additionally, in high school, MacLeod gained a passion for business. He admitted, “I really didn’t know where I wanted to focus my attention. I just knew I loved business as much as sports.”

Now he is fortunate to hold a position that encompasses marketing, public relations, journalism, graphic design, and tracking social media trends – all within the sport he loves.

 

Canada to Charlotte

In planning for his future, MacLeod discovered Belmont Abbey College. Located 20 minutes west of Charlotte, NC, the college offered a Motorsports Management program. While working on his degree, he had the opportunity to sit under multiple, notable names from within the industry. Two impactful professors were Erik Arneson, Vice President of Media Relations at FOX Sports and Jeremy Lang, Vice President of Levine Family Racing.

Many of his collegiate projects were hands-on, allowing him to make numerous connections within the sport. In fact, because of this, an internship opportunity developed just prior to graduation. Lang was in need of a temporary Public Relations and Social Media Representative for the 2018 All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600. MacLeod was able to represent Kasey Kahne throughout those two weekends.

A week later, MacLeod interviewed with Front Row Motorsports and was offered the position of Social Media Manager. In 2019, he transitioned into his current role at FRM, managing NASCAR Cup Series drivers David Ragan and Michael McDowell. At present, he handles PR for McDowell, as well as managing all social media efforts for the organization as a whole.

 

MacLeod with David Ragan and Michael McDowell at the 2019 Ford Mustang Monster Cup Series car unveiling at Ford World HQ in Dearborn. (Image provided by Mac MacLeod)

Wearing Multiple Hats

Holding a dual position as MacLeod does certainly means a busy week. However, pride can be heard in his voice when discussing the multiple hats he is fortunate to wear.

MacLeod uses a drone to record footage for a promotional video. (Photo Credit: LakeSide Media)

During a normal season, his week begins with a marketing meeting to discuss the business side of FRM. This includes a weekend debrief as well as preparations for the upcoming race. From there, MacLeod goes on to pitch local race media markets in hopes of securing interviews for his driver to promote the partners for the race weekend, and then he builds out his driver’s schedule. He also creates and posts social media content for FRM’s partners that are on their race cars for that particular race weekend.

The beginning of the week also includes writing and publishing press releases and race advances, as well as creating and distributing social media graphics. This allows new partners ample time to be welcomed leading up to race day via social channels. 

Additional social media responsibilities include creating a content calendar, filming and photographing the cars prior to leaving for the track, and setting up appearances and interviews for his driver. All of this is to ensure their partners receive the brand recognition they have requested and ultimately deserve. 

As the race weekend draws closer, MacLeod sets up McDowell’s calendar so he can know where to be and when for meet and greets, scheduled interviews, and appearances. It also notes when to be ready for practices, qualifying, driver introductions, various meetings, and race time.

 

“Things have intensified”

Since the return from the COVID-19 break, NASCAR has limited the number of team members allowed at the track. Having to work from home, MacLeod shared that while his managerial responsibilities haven’t changed, “a couple of things have intensified.”

It has been a bittersweet return to track for FRM as a number of new partners have joined the two-car organization. Unfortunately, these new sponsors have yet to experience a race in person as they would in a normal season. Instead, MacLeod has made use of Zoom and FaceTime to set up virtual meet and greets between these partners and McDowell.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, FRM has leaned on MacLeod even more so to create and push social media content and amply his media pitching for their team partners as a “make good” for not being able to attend the races.

Mac MacLeod and Michael McDowell review a script for a social media video promoting sponsors for the race weekend. (Photo Credit: LakeSide Media)

Passion for the Sport

“Passion” was the theme of the conversation when MacLeod discussed different aspects of his job. 

Due to the nature of his position, MacLeod has the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people from all over the country. Because of their passion for the sport, everyone is willing to help as needed. He also shared about the incredible “family feel” that embodies the NASCAR community. 

When asked about the most difficult aspect of his job, he shared “the passion of the fans,” but in a different sense.

He confessed, “When you’re representing a driver or team and there is any sort of conflict at the track, it’s tough to go back to social media and see the negative comments left. Fans are going to side with their favorite driver and it’s hard seeing the negative when you’re trying to promote more positive aspects of the organization and the sport.”

MacLeod records McDowell for a CarParts.com promotional piece in the Front Row Motorsports shop. (Photo Credit: LakeSide Media)

Surprising Details

Many might understand part of his role includes updating social media throughout the race. This is incredibly beneficial for fans who are unable to tune in live. 

However, for those relying on TV and radio announcers to inform listeners of upcoming adjustments or car trouble for a specific driver, this information comes from the PR Representatives. 

MacLeod said, “One of our roles is to listen to the scanner chatter between the driver, crew chief, and spotter and keep detailed notes. There are runners along pit road and their job is to relay information from us to the broadcast booth.”

NASCAR worked with broadcast partners NBC and FOX to create a platform specifically for PR Representatives to continue to share team information with race announcers since they are unable to be at the track due to current restrictions.

He noted the importance of understanding completely what is going on. MacLeod shared in closing, “It’s a big responsibility to make sure information is relayed properly and to not put words in their mouth.” 

Without a doubt, MacLeod thrives within his multiple roles at Front Row Motorsports. (Photo Credit: LakeSide Media)

 

Follow FRM social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) to not only keep up during the races but also to stay in-the-know when it comes to their weekly partners and news.

 

I want to extend a huge thank you to Mac MacLeod and Front Row Motorsports. I hope our readers enjoyed learning what goes on behind the scenes for NASCAR PR and Social Media Managers. 

Terra Jones

As a life-long NASCAR fan and lover of words, I'm fortunate enough to put the two together here at The Podium Finish to bring our readers and motorsports fans news, features, and interviews from the world of wheels. Originally from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, I moved westward to graduate from Middle Tennessee State University. I now reside in central North Carolina with my husband, our three boys, and our dog, Charlotte. While my heart is at the race track, I also enjoy watching baseball, as well as college football and basketball. 

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