In recent years, Alex Laughlin has emerged as a standout in the NHRA Pro Stock and Pro Mod ranks. If you follow Laughlin’s social media channels, you know he’s one of those guys that will literally race anything. Laughlin Motorsports’ current fleet of top-shelf race cars includes Pro Stock, Mountain Motor Pro Stock, Pro Mod, Radial Vs. The World, and the controversial no prep Camaro that has created a massive social media storm in recent weeks.
Ahead of the 2019 NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Laughlin released a rendering of his new primary marketing partner for the famed event—Hot Wheels. This iconic brand has brought delight to children of all ages since 1968, and Mattel shows no signs of slowing down. We caught up with Laughlin to chat about Hot Wheels’ involvement in his race program, and just how significant this truly is.
“Everyone played with Hot Wheels, everyone!” exclaims Laughlin. “From building tracks, collecting cars, racing them, it’s awesome to be able to climb into one that’s life-size. Ten year old me would think 30 year old me is the coolest guy ever!”
While Laughlin will only fly the Hot Wheels colors as his primary partner for the U.S. Nationals, the brand will continue to be a part of the program for the rest of the 2019 season.
“This is huge,” explains Laughlin about Hot Wheels’ involvement in his race program. “It hasn’t happened since the days of Snake and Mongoose, and for me, flying the colors of this iconic brand for the first time in so long is huge. It’s really an honor and all drag racing fans will relate to the days ‘way back when’”
“Hot Wheels has a long history of working with the NHRA since our early days with Snake and Mongoose in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, said Ricardo Briceno, Hot Wheels Director of Global Brand Marketing at Mattel. “We’re honored to once again be back at Indy this Labor Day weekend to sponsor the U.S. Nationals Pro-Mod series and cheer on our amazing racer Alex Laughlin in his Hot Wheels Chevy Camaro. Alex and all the NHRA teams truly embody the Hot Wheels challenger spirit that we look to ignite in all drag race fans and we look forward to some incredible racing at Lucas Oil Raceway.”
Throughout his career, Laughlin has done a great job of maintaining a clean-cut, image, though he isn’t afraid to mix it up on social media. With an active initiative within racing to bring the youth back to the sport, a partnership with Hot Wheels is as perfect as it gets, and Laughlin may be the perfect driver to carry the company’s flag. After all, what kid (and adult) hasn’t played with Hot Wheels cars?
Laughlin continues, “One of the main things I continue to push for with my personality and persona is being respectful, clean, and professional. A brand like Hot Wheels that’s so geared towards kids needs exactly that. Hot Wheels is different from other brands, and you have to be professional and clean cut.”
When Laughlin rolls into Indy, he will be piloting his Pro Stock car in addition to the Hot Wheels Pro Mod entry. Lately, he has spent more time rowing gears than spooling turbos. While the U.S. Nationals may be the biggest race of the NHRA season, for Laughlin, there is no added pressure at this marquee event. “To me, it’s all the same,” he explains. “It’s still a race. I still have the same job, the same pressure, and the same desire to win.” But the pressure of raceday isn’t the only stress Laugh has to contend with. Competing in multiple cars in different classes is far more challenging than it sounds. Spend more time in one car over another; you essentially need to relearn the intricacies of other car again.
“I’ve driven four different cars this year and will be in six by the end of the season,” Laughlin tells us. “Switch panels, gear boxes, staging procedure, it’s different in each one. I take a second when I hop in to look around me and remind myself which car I’m in so I don’t make any mistakes. I’ve done it enough now that it’s an easier transition, but there’s no doubt it’s always a challenge.”
As Laughlin prepares to debut his life-size Hot Wheels car at Indy, the racing world, along with countless children (young and old) will be watching and experiencing or reliving a small piece of their childhood. For Laughlin, a potentially record-setting childhood dream will also be realized in the process.
“Who in the world wouldn’t want a full-size Hot Wheels car?” asks Laughlin. “This is a toy that became real life! I don’t know for sure, but we may be about to break a record for the fastest Hot Wheels car in the world!”