HOMETOWN: Sumter, SC
RESIDENCE: Huntersville, NC
Ty Norris knows how to build successful race teams. In the mid-1990s the now 46-year-old Delaware native joined others in helping the late Dale Earnhardt create Dale Earnhardt Inc. and guided that company to unprecedented success on and off the track.
The NASCAR industry took notice. When Michael Waltrip began laying the foundation for his 40-employee Nationwide team’s move into a Sprint Cup program in 2005, he selected Norris as one of the cornerstone employees. His 15 plus years experience in the sport with companies like DEI, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. and RJ Reynolds would be a key to his success in the Sprint Cup arena.
After just six years, it appears Michael Waltrip Racing has a prominent place among the top teams in the sport. MWR boasts more than 200 employees and long-term relationships with corporate partners like NAPA AUTO PARTS, Aaron’s and Toyota and new high profile relationships with 5-hour ENERGY and AAA. While the economy forced many teams in the sport to cut back, MWR has added corporate partners, embarked on digital and social media programs, and elevated sponsor services to new levels.
On the track, MWR enters the 2012 season with renewed optimism and for good reason. Its driver lineup is as good as it’s ever been, with No. 56 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr. returning to the team after ending the 2011 season posting four top 10s in the final five races. Newcomer Clint Bowyer plans to put his 5-hour ENERGY Toyota in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, while future hall of famer Mark Martin and two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip will man the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine in 2012. Veteran Scott Miller begins his first full year as competition director after a successful tenure at Richard Childress Racing.
Running a race team never seemed a career path to Norris who studied journalism at Delaware State University and covered races for the local paper. After taking a media relations job with RJ Reynolds in 1990, Norris caught the attention of Earnhardt as the seven-time champion began building his own organization. In 1996, Earnhardt hired Norris to serve as executive vice president of motorsports for DEI as they prepared for their Sprint Cup entry in 1998. During the next eight years, Norris, Earnhardt and others helped build DEI into a motorsports juggernaut, winning 65 NASCAR races and four truck and Nationwide championships.
Norris left DEI in 2004, and after a stint with SMI decided his passion was on the competition side of the sport. In 2005, Waltrip began making overtures to Norris about growing MWR. Norris jumped at the chance to guide an infant Sprint Cup operation to a force within sport.