Danny Harrison first felt the pull to combine his business interests and passion for racing nearly 50 years ago.
“The first money I ever spent on a race car was 1973, I guess,” he said. “It was a big amount - $125. They were racing every Saturday night at Woodruff, and this guy I knew owned a car. I gave him $125, and you would’ve thought I’d given him a million dollars. It’s been going on ever since. It’s just something I like to do, and it’s grown to where it is now.”
Where it is now is near the pinnacle of the sport. Today via social media, JR Motorsports announced that Harrison’s USA will join Josh Berry and the No. 8 team as primary partner for eight races during the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
JR Motorsports is the racing operation co-owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Rick Hendrick.
“This is obviously the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” Harrison said.
Kevin Harrison, Vice President of Harrison’s, said the partnership will be a huge advantage for the company, a family-owned chain of retail stores with five locations in both Carolinas. For 30 years, Harrison’s has offered a wide variety of clothing and footwear with the most in-stock casual and safety boots in the area. Harrison’s is the Southeast’s largest dealer for Ariat and Carhartt, and also offers top lifestyle brands in clothing and footwear, both in-store and online at harrisonsusa.com.
“From where we were when my parents started nearly 30 years ago, as we’ve grown into a regional operation in the Carolinas, I think this is the next step,” he said. “This is a step toward widening that reach so that hopefully we can now be a national brand. I think it’s a great partnership for JRM and Harrison’s to be able to walk down this road. I think these two brands and companies marry well together.”
The relationship also goes hand-in-hand with Harrison's commitment to growth. The company recently opened a store in Mooresville, N.C., and is planning further brick-and-mortar growth within the next year. At the same time, the company's website has been re-branded as harrisonsusa.com. The increased exposure that comes with a NASCAR sponsorship is something that will help drive those goals, Kevin Harrison said.
"We have really grown and expanded over the past couple of years," he said. "This partnership will allow us to both open new locations and promote our business at harrisonsusa.com as well as our Amazon storefront exposure. Ultimately, we are looking to take the Harrison'sUSA concept nationwide."
The partnership stems from a conversation between Harrison and Berry. Berry has 89 Late Model wins, many of them in races featuring cars that Harrison sponsored.
“He sure has beat me a lot,” Harrison said with a laugh. “Josh and I happened to be talking one week. He was running an Xfinity race that weekend, and I just asked him if anything had happened about his ride for next year. He told me they had a little help but were looking for more, and I told him I might be able to get him over the hump. The following Monday, Kelley called me and asked if I wanted to come sit down with them. I did, and I felt like it was a great opportunity if we could put it together.”
Berry said he’s happy to have Harrison’s on board and excited about next season.
“I’ve seen Danny around the races for a long time,” Berry said. “To be able to put all of this together is just a dream come true for me. I can’t wait to race the Harrison’s Workwear Camaro, and to get to work with everybody through this opportunity to see what we can do. It’s important for us to make this work for everyone. We are going to do everything we can to help support Harrison’s just like they’re helping to support my racing, and hopefully we can do this for a long time.”
Earnhardt Miller said the similarities between Harrison’s and JRM - both family businesses at the heart of things - make the partnership special.
“From the onset of me meeting Danny and Kevin and the Harrison family, just knowing their roots in the sport and our roots in the sport, it just made the first encounter so natural and easy,” Earnhardt Miller said. “To learn more about what they do and how they’ve grown a big company from such small-town roots is really cool. I think it’s going to be a great partnership. It’s right up our alley relationship-wise. It should be a lot of fun to marry our assets with theirs and do some good things for both of us.”
Berry will enter his first full-time NXS season in 2022. He secured a win at Martinsville Speedway along with four top-five and six top-10 finishes in a 12-race stint in 2021. Additional details on specific races for the No. 8 Harrison’s USA Camaro will be announced at a later date.
“Dale Jr. has always been a Josh Berry fan, and has furnished late-model cars for him,” Harrison said. “The day I talked to him, he made it very clear that he wanted Josh in that No. 8 car. The No. 8 goes back to his grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, and I think he knows that by me saying I was so interested in Josh, I think it meant something to him to have us involved in it. I think it’s going to be great for both of us.”