In a typical year, Matt Tifft and B.J. McLeod would have introduced Live Fast Motorsports to the racing world during a press conference at the Brickyard 400 or perhaps even the Firecracker 400 if the deal had been complete in July.
But 2020 has been anything but typical, especially when it comes to racing.
So when the opportunity to own a NASCAR Cup charter from team owner Archie St. Hilaire was presented to Tifft and McLeod, they didn’t hesitate to chase their dreams.
“B.J. and I have been good friends for a long time and we started talking about this a few months before the announcement was made and we never thought in our wildest dreams that something like this would come to fruition,” Tifft said during a press conference via Zoom on Friday. “But lo and behold this situation with Archie (team owner Go Fas Racing) came about to where he was wanting to exit the sport and still stay involved part-time.”
That opened the door for Live Fast Motorsports. In an era when NASCAR has reevaluated its ownership model and attempted to cut unnecessary fat, entrepreneurs looking to join that elite Cup fraternity believe this could be their chance.
And Tifft is no different. A seizure at Martinsville Speedway in October 2019 sidelined the 24-year-old racer, who had a brain tumor removed three years prior. Neither obstacle changed his desire to pursue a career in racing.
“I talked about in previous years many years down the road before my health problems came up that I’d love to be an owner in this sport,” Tifft said. “I love NASCAR and I saw the pattern of what was happening between the other new owners and the things going on in the sport and just always thought I’d love to be a part of that side post-driving.
“I didn’t think the post-driving was gonna come as quick as it did, but B.J. has been a great team owner in this sport from every level, so when he and I got together—we were at dinner one night—and started talking about, ‘Hey, maybe this is something we’d like to do in the future,’ we didn’t think it was gonna come as quick as it did. I’m just so excited to be a team owner in the NASCAR Cup Series and I wouldn’t be wanting to do it with anybody else.
“B.J. is a great guy, but also more than that a great businessman and knows how to run a team. I just can’t wait to get this venture started.”
Tifft first met McLeod at driving school when he was just 12-years-old. While he was intimidated at first by the journeyman racer, a friendship quickly developed.
“When you talk to B.J. he is one of the most articulate, smartest guys in the industry,” Tifft added. “He’s one of the few guys that has actually run a successful Xfinity team – been there for years. You see a lot of people that come and go. That’s the thing about B.J. is so genuine and so smart and he’s one of the few guys that has made it in this sport and climbed every single ladder.
“I’ve been with him since the late model days. I was his first Truck Series owner being at Martinsville and getting a top 10 there with him, which really launched my career. He was a groomsman in my wedding, so we’ve been together for a long time.
“It’s really a cool partnership and, like I said, he and I are family, so it feels like a family-run team because of how close the people involved are still.”
McLeod, 37, has campaigned multiple entries in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the last five seasons. He started driving in NASCAR’s top touring series beginning with trucks in 2010 and will be behind the wheel of the No. 78 Ford next year.
McLeod dabbled in the Cup series as an owner this season for 15 races. In his defense, the team started its season during the pandemic and never had the opportunity to practice. The Wauchula, Florida native drove the No. 78 car—also the number Live Fast Motorsports will operate under—in 13 of those events. He finished seven of the races but none on the lead lap. The team’s best result—and only top 25—was a 22nd-place result in the Brickyard 400.
For the pair to build Live Fast into a sustainable entity, having a charter was paramount to establishing security in NASCAR’s top tour.
“The goal is to be secure in the sport and have a good platform to bring marketing partners,” McLeod said. “This year we ran 35th, 32nd, I think we have a couple of top 30’s with our open team, but you have to get the correct marketing partners to be able to ever dream of getting into that top 20 bracket. With that being said, the first way to speed that up is to own a charter, so that was a goal of Matt and I’s.
“Honestly, it’s been over a year we’ve been dreaming of making this happen and really working on it, and, like Matt said, the opportunity presented itself. We were gonna do it either way. As soon as the opportunity popped up, we were going for this, so it may have been two months ago like it was or it may have been four years from now, but that was our plan to work that direction.”
While some pundits might view Live Fast Motorsports as a flash-in-the-pan team, Tifft and McLeod have a methodical approach to NASCAR’s latest Cup venture. The initial game plan was to enter Cup full-time when the Next Gen car debuted in 2021. Due to the pandemic, NASCAR delayed the roll out until 2022. Although it would have been cost-effective to adjust their timeline to align with the new car, the ability to secure a charter made the decision for the young owners.
Still, with the new team’s technical alliance with Ford powerhouse Stewart-Haas Racing, and veteran crew chief Frank Kerr expected to be calling the shots, LVM should have a foundation to hit the ground running at Daytona in February.
“It’s crazy how competitive the Cup Series is and I know it from a driver and from an owner both,” McLeod said. “It’s unreal how hard it is and that relationship is gonna speed up a lot for Matt and I and give us resources that we could really only dream of having, so just looking forward to getting rolling and seeing where it goes to.”