When Eddie Sharp set out to make his mark on motorsports, he didn’t envision being a team owner in NASCAR. In fact, Sharp didn’t even start his racing career on pavement; the Floridian took on his competition on the water racing hydroplane boats. However, it didn’t take long before Sharp ventured into the cockpit of a stock car and followed the familiar racing path into North Carolina.
Sharp got his first taste of NASCAR as a driver when he made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut in 1993. Within a few years, he decided to explore life on the other side of the cockpit—first as a crew chief and then as a team owner. With consideration of his long-term goals, Sharp committed himself to team ownership; he purchased a 40,000-square foot race complex in 2006 and never looked back. He set the goal to contend, not just compete, and transformed the Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) complex in quiet Denver, N.C. into a five-star facility.
ESR quickly became the place for up-and-coming young talent. Since the team’s inception, Sharp focused on helping usher the careers of Scott Lagasse, Chase Miller, T.J. Bell, Michael McDowell, Scott Speed; and more recently, Cale Gale, Max Gresham and the 2009 Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) Racing Series Champion Justin Lofton.
McDowell was the first to find success while driving for Sharp, earning the ARCA Racing Series’ Rookie of the Year title and winning four races in 2007. The next season, Speed found victory lane four times in an ESR car and battled for the ARCA Racing Series title.
Like the others before him and many to follow, Justin Lofton found success early and often in ESR’s cars in the ARCA Racing Series. After earning his first victory in 2008, Lofton returned to the team in 2009 to record six race wins, 15 top fives, 19 top-10 finishes and engage in a heated battle for the season championship. ESR fended off their challengers and Lofton earned the company its first ARCA Racing Series Championship.
With the championship trophy proudly displayed in his shop, Sharp set his sights on the next step—the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). In 2010 ESR ran a partial NCWTS schedule while preparing to take their effort full-time in 2011. By November 2011, the team finished their first full-season ranked 16th in the point standings with three top-10 finishes.
ESR expanded to become a multi-truck team in 2012 with full-time drivers Lofton and Gale. Additionally, Gresham and Mike Skinner made select starts in a third ESR entry. With new growth came new success and Lofton raced to victory lane at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in the organization’s 36th NCWTS start. Within a few weeks, Lofton also secured the team’s first pole award leading the field to the green flag at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway. Competing with ESR in his rookie season, Gale won the pole at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and finished off the season in victory lane at Homestead-Miami (Fl.) Speedway.
As an organization built on budding talent, Sharp will continue to grow his driver development program in 2013 with Will Gallaher returning to the United Auto Racing Association (UARA) STARS Series for his second season with the team. Additionally, Gresham will return to the No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado for his first full-time NCWTS campaign, and Lofton will climb back in the No. 6 Chevrolet Silverado for a minimum of 10 NCWTS events, with additional races pending sponsorship.