Black Rifle Coffee’s NASCAR Success Was Fueled by 1 Key Friendship

Noah Gragson

Getty Noah Gragson has 7 wins during the 2022 season.

Black Rifle Coffee Company joined the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020 by sponsoring Noah Gragson for several races. He has since become one of the series’ best drivers with the coffee company as a primary partner, something that Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris predicted would happen.

“Noah was brought to us by my friend Johnny Morris,” Evan Hafer, BRCC founder and CEO, explained during an interview with Heavy. “He called me and was like, ‘there’s a really good kid. I think he’s going to be an incredible racer. Like, NASCAR-level racer someday. You guys should co-sponsor this car with us because he’s going to be epic.’

“And what I’ve learned, [there are] a couple people in my life that you always say yes to. Johnny Morris. I always say yes to Johnny. Jarred [Taylor], a few of these other guys.”

The decision to join forces with Gragson paid immediate dividends. The Las Vegas native won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway — his first with BRCC and Bass Pro Shops on the No. 9 Chevrolet — which secured his spot in the playoffs. One year later, Gragson won a career-high three races with Bass Pro Shops, True Timber, and BRCC before reaching the championship four and finishing third overall in the standings.

“Johnny can call them, man. He’s — I’m sure there are a few people in racing that know more about NASCAR than Johnny, but there’s like a handful. Maybe,” Hafer added. “You know what I mean? Johnny’s introduced me to so many people in racing that I have become really close friends with.”

The list of new friends includes Richard Childress, 2017 Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr., and Petty GMS Motorsports driver Ty Dillon. BRCC even sponsored Dillon as he attempted to qualify for the Daytona 500 in a Gaunt Brothers Racing car, as well as the first-ever Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas where he finished 21st.

“It is impossible to not love racing if you spend time with Johnny. It’s impossible because he’s like a kid going to the races every time he steps on the track. And it’s incredible to do stuff with him.”

The Move to Motorsports Was an Early Goal

Noah Gragson

GettyNoah Gragson prepares for a race at Phoenix.

Hafer, Mat Best, and Jarred Taylor established BRCC in 2014 after the successful release of the limited edition Dark Roasted Freedom coffee. Best and Taylor made the roast available through their former company, Article 15 Clothing, and sold 300 bags in a mere five days. This success led to the trio shifting all of their efforts to the young company in 2015, paving the way for the expansion into motorsports. In 2017, BRCC and Silencer Co. joined forces to sponsor TJ Bell for three NASCAR Truck Series races, highlighting a significant year for the company.

The move to motorsports was a natural progression for BRCC, and it was also a goal from the very beginning. Hafer already had a deep appreciation for rally racing, especially after taking several driving courses during his nine years working for the CIA. Once he joined forces with Taylor, in particular, they had several discussions about how to get involved in motorsports.

“When Jarred and I met, one of our original conversations was around being able to sponsor a rally,” Hafer said. “That’s one of the first things we talked about because we’re both — Like, I wouldn’t say that I’m a hardcore enthusiast. I love racing. I love the competitive nature of it, the technology piece of it, the strategy piece of it. It’s incredible.

“And so my dream initially was to be able to make enough money where we could sponsor ourselves to go rally and wrap the car like weekend warrior style. Turn wrenches and do the whole thing. So it was one of the first things that we had discussed. ‘How are we going to get into racing?'”

BRCC has achieved this initial goal of getting involved in motorsports, and they did so by sponsoring some of the biggest names in NASCAR, offroad racing, and rally. This decision to get involved has led to numerous victories, a partnership with Texas Motor Speedway in 2018 to become the track’s official coffee, and an opportunity for Taylor to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” before a Truck Series race.

Hafer’s Humor & Love of Motorsports Often Join Forces

Black Rifle Coffee Company has a reputation for a unique sense of humor. The company has put this on display with countless videos on YouTube and through some of the Exclusive Coffee Club roast names (Power Llama, Ridin’ Poseidon). Hafer has also put this humor on display while walking the grid before NASCAR races.

“Martin Truex [Jr.], when I first met Martin, he was prepping for the Daytona [race],” Hafer said. “I was next to the car, and I think Noah was even there because he had just done the Xfinity race. I’m like, ‘Hey, man’ — and he thought I was just a regular dude just walking by the car. I was like, ‘Hey, man, just so you know, those headlights don’t work.’

“And he thought I might be like just an idiot, which I’m not debating whether or not that’s fact or not. But he was like, ‘Get the f*** away from me.’ And his handler just kind of shooed me off. And I’m like, ‘I’m serious, Martin, those headlights are fake!’ He didn’t know. So then we showed up like a month or two later, somewhere else. He’s like, ‘you’re that f******, you’re that guy. That headlight guy!’ You’ve got me. Guilty as charged.”

Along with pointing out Truex’s “fake headlights” before a Crown Jewel race, Hafer also spent time guiding Morris around Daytona as his “protective detail.” Nobody recognized him as the CEO of a massive coffee company, so he pretended to be a bodyguard. Hafer moved bystanders out of the way, spoke into his sleeve, and provided a lot of entertainment for the Bass Pro Shops founder.

With BRCC, True Timber, and Bass Pro Shops all returning as the primary partners of Gragson in 2022, there will only be more opportunities for Hafer to walk the grid and have some fun with the drivers and other people on hand. Though he won’t be able to trick Truex, Childress, Dillon, or any of the other people that he has met through his friendship with Morris.

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