Story By: LEIGHTON SIBILLE / GMS RACING – STATESVILLE, NC – Wednesday morning, GMS Racing officials announced it will cease operations at the conclusion of the 2023 race season.
GMS Fabrication, a separate entity which has operated alongside the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series (NCTS) race team, will also close its doors following the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.
“During the past nine years, GMS Racing has become one of the top teams in the Truck and ARCA Series garage. The people that made this happen have been the hard-working men and women at GMS Racing and GMS Fabrication. Every employee, new and old at GMS has always strived to be the very best,” said Maury Gallagher. “Without their effort and dedication, we would have never been able to win two Truck championships, three ARCA championships and 68 wins. Leadership is always critical in any success story. Since 2015, Mike Beam has been the catalyst of this race team’s success. Chevrolet and GM has also been critical to our success. With the combination of Chevrolet plus Mike at the helm, we became the team I always dreamed of owning. I can’t thank Mike enough for all his leadership and hard work. We are looking to finish out this year on a high note and close our legacy in this era with another Truck Series championship.”
GMS Racing, or as it was formerly known as Gallagher Motorsports, was founded by entrepreneur and CEO of Allegiant Travel Company, Maury Gallagher, in 2012. Initially competing in the ARCA Menards Series with Gallagher’s son, Spencer Gallagher, as the team’s primary driver, the team fielded the No. 23 as a tribute to Spencer Clark, a young driver from Las Vegas who tragically passed away at the beginning of his career in 2006. In 2013, the team grew to include part-time operations of a NCTS race team, in which Gallagher would compete in three races.
In 2014, the then-renamed GMS Racing began full-time in the Truck Series, partnering with Joey Coulter. The team also expanded its ARCA program, fielding two cars for Spencer and Grant Enfinger. Enfinger won the first race at Berlin Raceway for Gallagher as Team Owner. Spencer finished the year by winning the season finale at Kansas Speedway. Enfinger would finish runner up in the points in his first full-time season competing in ARCA.
2015 would be a banner year for the race team, as Gallagher joined forces with one of the most respected names in motorsports, Mike Beam. Mike joined as Team President, a position he still holds today. He oversaw the race team and GMS Fabrication’s efforts. The year started off with a bang, as Ty Dillon won the team’s first pole award in the Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway. The team’s first truck win was soon in hand as Austin Dillion won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, solidifying their spot as a race-winning organization on a national level. Enfinger was on a tear in the ARCA Menards Series, winning a total of three poles and a division-high six races en route to winning the series championship, a remarkable feat for Beam and the crew members associated with GMS.
Coming off the ARCA Menards Series championship, GMS Racing wanted more. In addition to the ARCA Series, GMS upped its game in its Truck efforts in 2016, fielding two full-time entries for Gallagher and Johnny Sauter, along with two part-time trucks split between several drivers. Race wins were plentiful that year, as Kyle Larson, Ben Kennedy, and Grant Enfinger would each score Truck Series victories. Sauter won three races of his own and captured the series championship, checking off a monumental accomplishment for the still relatively new race team. This would make it two championship seasons in a row for Beam and Gallagher, further emphasizing that this team was on the pathway to building a legacy.
The 2017 season saw the team go full-time Xfinity Series racing with Spencer, in addition to a part-time second car. The Truck Series operations expanded yet again, this time making it three full-time entries with Sauter, Kaz Grala, and Justin Haley, along with a fourth truck that ran three times. Six wins would be earned by the team; one each by Grala and Chase Elliott, and four by Sauter, who fell one spot short of defending his title, finishing second overall.
In 2018, Spencer Gallagher would earn both his and GMS Racing’s first Xfinity Series win at Talladega Superspeedway. Later that year he announced he was stepping away from driving to take on a managerial role within the team. It would be one of the organization’s most formidable years in the Truck Series, fielding four full-time trucks that combined to win 10 races. Six of those races were won by Sauter, three by Haley, and one by Timothy Peters. Sauter advanced to the Championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, ultimately finishing fourth in points.
The following season in 2019 saw John Hunter Nemechek take over the reins of the GMS Xfinity Series car, finishing seventh in the points standings. The Truck Series operations would shrink to two full-time trucks driven by Sheldon Creed and Brett Moffitt, who won four races, along with an additional part-time truck. GMS started an ARCA East entry driven by Sam Mayer, who won four races on his way to the series championship in his rookie season. At the conclusion of 2019, the decision was made to exit the Xfinity Series and focus more on driver development in Trucks and ARCA.
Arguably the most successful season throughout the team’s history was 2020. Its drivers combined to win 19 races across three series. The Truck Series fielded five full-time teams with drivers Creed, Moffitt, Zane Smith, and Tyler Ankrum competing for the championship, and a rotation of drivers in the fifth truck. This combination racked up 10 wins, five by Creed, two by Smith, one each by Moffitt, Chase Elliott and Sam Mayer. Heading into the championship race at Phoenix Raceway, GMS qualified for three of the four championship contenders places and finished the year with a remarkable 1-2-3 finish, led by Creed, who won the organization’s second Truck Series championship. Mayer continued to dominate the ARCA Menards Series East, boasting an unheard-of 80% win ratio with five wins in six races, cruising to the championship. He also won one time in ARCA West, driving a special paint scheme that honored the late Spencer Clark in front of Clark’s hometown Las Vegas.
GMS Racing once again fielded five full-time trucks in 2021 for Creed, Smith, Ankrum, and Chase Purdy. The fifth was split by multiple drivers, coupled along with a part-time ARCA entry. The Truck team won a total of four races – Creed won three races while Smith brought home one checkered flag. Smith advanced to the final round of the playoffs for the second year in a row, finishing second in points. Daniel Dye won his first, and the team’s final ARCA win at Berlin Raceway, fittingly book-ending the team’s series wins at the same racetrack.
Gallagher announced in late 2021 that he would field a NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, purchasing controlling interest in Richard Petty Motorsports. The new team, Petty GMS, began competing in 2022 in tandem with the Truck Series teams.
Last year saw the team transition to two full-time trucks driven by Grant Enfinger and Jack Wood along with a full-time ARCA entry for Dye. Enfinger would win once that season, and Dye finished runner up in the ARCA championship and was named ARCA’s Rookie of the Year. He would later make the jump up to the Truck Series heading this season. 2022 was the finale for GMS Racing’s ARCA team.
This season, GMS welcomed rookie drivers Dye and Rajah Caruth to its Truck Series roster in addition to Enfinger, returning to form and contending for wins throughout the year. Wins at Kansas Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway solidified Enfinger as one of the threats poised to win the 2023 Truck Series championship. The latest victory, win number 44 in the Truck Series, positioned the team as the overall winningest Chevrolet organization within the series. With six races remaining in the year, all three drivers will look to add fuel to the legacy of one of the most successful organizations in NCTS history.
“I just want to start off by saying how grateful I am for Maury (Gallagher) and these incredible nine years at GMS Racing. A lot of people, including myself, have poured their hearts and souls into this organization to make it where it’s at today. Our success wouldn’t have been possible without the talented drivers, crew members, fabricators and administrators that have walked through our doors over the years,” responded Mike Beam. “I also want to thank Chevrolet. Chevrolet has been such a key partner of ours over our entire existence. They have been along for every success GMS has obtained and we couldn’t have done it without their support. As for the rest of this year, we will continue business as usual and chase after a Championship in our final season.”
While the ending of an era with the closing of the race team is undeniably a difficult circumstance, bright futures lie ahead. Heading into 2024, LEGACY MOTOR CLUB™ Co-Owners Maury Gallagher and Jimmie Johnson look to strengthen the team on all fronts with their NASCAR Cup Series efforts to become a force to be reckoned with for years to come.