Hobby Musings: Talking NASCAR with Panini’s Tim Trout

Hobby Musings: Talking NASCAR with Panini’s Tim Trout – One of NASCAR’s biggest storylines the past few years has been the retirement of many of the sport’s stars. That trend is continuing in 2020 as Jimmie Johnson announced this will be his final season. While that takes some big names out of the current lineup, it opens the door for young drivers to take their place. This has not gone unnoticed by Panini as they continue to evolve their NASCAR subject checklists. I had the chance to catch up with Tim Trout to find out the current state of the NASCAR card market, as well as what the company has planned in the near future for the sport. The following interview was conducted via email.

KS: Tim, with Daytona recently over, where do you think the NASCAR trading card market stands today?
TT: After the crazy finish and that nasty wreck, there is definitely some new interest. I know there were some collectors looking to add some autos to their collection as one of the drivers involved had a fury of activity.

KS: Overall, who are currently the most popular drivers among collectors?
TT: Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jr, Richard Petty, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick have been the most collected drivers, but there are some newcomers that are taking those top spots, which is nice to see. Young drivers like Hailie Deegan, Chase Elliott, Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney have been getting some attention from collectors on the secondary market. Drivers like Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. are also heavily chased by collectors, but they are not quite at that top tier yet.

KS: Jimmie Johnson announced that 2020 will be his final season. Do you have anything planned to commemorate this?
TT: Look for some special stuff coming up in National Treasures later this year.Hobby Musings: Talking NASCAR with Panini's Tim Trout

KS: His retirement continues the trend of well-known, popular drivers hanging it up. How does it affect your card planning with all of these legends retiring?
TT: Going back to the question of who are the most collected drivers, four of the first six I mentioned will be hanging it up at the end of the season, but they are still at the top. We have been actively signing some younger drivers to feature in our sets. We made a specific point to start going deeper into the talent pool for the up and coming drivers.

We started that a couple years back when we found Hailie Deegan while she was one of the NASCAR Next drivers, and we saw her card sales go through the roof.  Pay attention to the deeper player lists this year, especially the autograph checklists.

KS: With that being said, who’s an up and comer that collectors should be keeping an eye on?
TT: No doubt, Hailie Deegan is one that collectors need to keep an eye on. I haven’t seen secondary market sales for a young NASCAR driver at these levels since Danica Patrick’s debut in trading cards.

KS: Taking a deeper dive, who’s a WAY under-the-radar driver that collectors should be looking out for?
TT: Derek Kraus for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Last year in 14 races, he finished in the Top 10 in 13 of those races. He found his way to Victory Lane in five of those races. Another one to watch for is Thad Moffitt. He’s an ARCA driver with some strong racing bloodlines. His grandfather is The King himself, Richard Petty.

KS: What do you think is the biggest key to growth with the NASCAR trading card properties going forward?
TT: We have been working hard with NASCAR to get more exposure to our trading card lines, with help from their marketing teams as well as ours. We are running the Daytona VIP experience contest again this year, with our 2019 contest winner enjoying a trip to Daytona and a cool experience with Joey Logano. We also sponsored a car in the Xfinity Series. Make sure you check out that sweet 09 car of Gray Gaulding’s. We are working on some cool stuff again this year.

KS: With that in mind, what can NASCAR collectors look forward to from Panini in 2020?
TT: We have adjusted our releases a bit this year with Chronicles Racing replacing Victory Lane and National Treasures in place of Prime. With the performance of Chronicles in our other sports, we thought that it was a natural fit with all of the brands we have available in our portfolio. We swapped out Prime for National Treasures at the request of collectors, hobby shops and distributors. We’re also running the Daytona VIP experience where a lucky collector will get a chance to head down to the 2021 Daytona 500 and get some really neat access to some behind the scenes stuff with one of our partners (last year was Joey Logano). We are also running a retail wrapper promotion in 2020 Donruss, where collectors can send in for some exclusive packs of cards.

For more from Kelsey Schroyer, follow him on Twitter @KelSchroy75.

Hobby Musings: Talking NASCAR with Panini’s Tim Trout
Kelsey Schroyer