June 13, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Detroit native Phil Parsons balances broadcasting, owning racing team and fatherhood

Brooklyn, Mich. — Detroit native Phil Parsons was smiling while sitting in a chair just outside his transporter at Michigan International Speedway on Friday afternoon.

Parsons knows how fortunate he is with Father’s Day coming up. He is a motorsports broadcaster and team owner, getting ready for the ARCA broadcast later that day — just after Sprint Cup qualifying where his driver, Josh Wise, was trying to make the show for Sunday’s running of the Quicken Loans 400.

Parsons, a 1975 graduate of Detroit Catholic Central, still pays attention to how Detroit's professional sports teams are doing, saying, “I realize (Tigers pitcher Max) Scherzer got his first complete game last night in his 179th start.”

Parsons will be in the broadcast booth for the NASCAR Truck series race Saturday near St. Louis, but he will fly home to North Carolina to celebrate Father’s Day and his twins’ 16th birthday instead of the return trip to MIS.

“I’m doing double duty this week,” said Parsons, 56, the younger brother of the late Benny Parsons, the 1973 Winston Cup champion. “I’m working for Fox Sports 1 for the ARCA race today, then I’ll be flying out to St. Louis to do the truck qualifying tomorrow, then the race.

“I’d normally come back here on Sunday, and I actually have a return trip here from St. Louis, but I have twins, a boy and a girl and they’re turning 16 Sunday, so I think I’m going to go home to spend the day with them. If they were turning 15, 17, that’s a different thing, but 16, 18, 21, you have to be there.”

Parsons, who won the Winston 500 at Talladega as a driver in 1988 and went on to finish ninth in points, said his team’s budget is one-quarter of the $20 million budgets of the power teams in the series. He has eight full-time employees, compared to 50 employees for some of the elite teams.

“It’s a fraction of their budget and we understand that,” Parsons said. “I think we’ve done a really good job for what we have to work with. We know it will be next to impossible to compete on a day-to-day basis with a big team. We’ve had some bright spots, some good runs, four or five top-25 finishes, and that’s good for us.

“The highlight of our year, truthfully, is the fact we caught the attention of the Dogecoin/Reddit community. Reddit is an online community which has well over a hundred million unique visitors per month. They saw us running at Bristol. They saw that we were unsponsored, saw we had a good run, we actually came out of the pits late, came out in front of the leader, stayed in front of the leader for 50 laps, actually drove away from the leader at one point.”

Parsons found out it was a 15-year-old whose post on the website started a major fundraiser to sponsor Wise’s No. 98 Chevrolet for a race.

“At the time a 15-year-old kid said, ‘I know the Dogecoin community has done fundraisers in the past — sent the Jamaican bobsled team to the Olympics this year — so why don’t we see if we can raise enough money to sponsor the No. 98 car in a race,’” Parsons said. “I found out a few days later because I wasn’t familiar with Reddit. Josh asked me if I saw it and felt there was something there.

“Well, that post from the 15-year-old got a little momentum going and they launched an initiative to raise enough currency and within 10 days they raised enough money, fifty-five thousand dollars, to sponsor us at Talladega. They also launched an initiative after Talladega to vote us in the All-Star race in Charlotte.”

Wise finished 15th in the 22-car All-Star field to earn $86,411 in prize money.

Parsons said Dogecoin/Reddit.com will be on the No. 98 car in the road course race next week at Sonoma, then again at Talladega in October.

Josh Wise, above, is the driver of the Ford owned by Phil Parsons Racing. / Jeff Curry / Getty Images