CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 29, 2010) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Brad Coleman’s search for sponsorship for his NASCAR Nationwide Series races in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota this season yielded an unexpected opportunity that blossomed into both a business acquisition and sponsorship for his first race of the year at Nashville Superspeedway on June 5 from SafeWay Driving Centers.
The 22 year-old Texan has made the most of his relationship with several NASCAR Partners to acquire one of Texas’ largest driving school companies.
When visiting his hometown of Houston over the Thanksgiving holidays last year, Coleman stopped by SafeWay Driving Centers, where he had received his Texas drivers license when he was 16. A visit with then owner and company founder Gene Walker about the prospects of sponsoring one of the schools’ most famed graduates ultimately compelled Coleman to return to Charlotte with the idea of buying the 37-year-old chain of driving schools.
"I give Nationwide Insurance a lot of credit for developing my desire to help teenagers become better drivers," Coleman said. "Flying around the country on behalf of Nationwide and speaking to high school kids about the dangers of texting and driving fueled a second passion in my life, and that is improving the quality of teenage drivers we put on the road. My first passion is and always will be behind the wheel of a racecar but knowing I can make a real difference in the lives of young people and their families is a close second thanks to Nationwide."
Bank of America representatives Jeff Bulger and Allen Sprinkle saw the passion in Coleman and the opportunity to improve and expand the already successful business by bringing together key NASCAR Partners and other business leaders to leverage the investment opportunity.
Bulger, of Bank of America’s Motorsports Advisory Group, said, "Brad and his partners brought us this concept, and we loved the story as well as the opportunity. It is a solid business and a great chance for Brad to help a lot of people because it ties directly into his NASCAR career, so we helped him fund it through a business development loan, and we think it will be a huge success."
Through various programs, Coleman and his SafeWay Driving Centers have partnered with Bank of America, Nationwide Insurance and Toyota to build the foundation for a successful venture. The school currently trains more than 5000 students a year in the Greater Houston Area, and Coleman says that is just scratching the surface.
"We have plans to grow SafeWay Driving Centers once we get the model exactly right for the marketplace," Coleman said. "Thanks to Bank of America believing in our vision and Nationwide and Toyota stepping up to help create something special, we are already developing long-term plans we believe will positively impact a lot of lives. We haven’t even dropped the green flag on this one yet!"