Scott Loves his Sports

December 3, 2021

"Penske Material" provides an inside look at some of the personalities, stories and moments that make Team Penske so unique.

As fans have returned to sporting events throughout the country this fall, Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Scott McLaughlin has been truly able to enjoy his move to the United States – specifically in the state of North Carolina – more than he did this time last year. With the INDYCAR SERIES in the midst of a five-month offseason that provides drivers and teams with a little down time around the holidays, McLaughlin is soaking in the sports at his new home base.

One year ago, McLaughlin and wife, Karly, were settling into their Charlotte, NC area home amid a world of uncertainty due to the pandemic. The New Zealand native has changed countries before, but the move across the Tasman Sea to Australia is not quite as daunting as moving across the Pacific Ocean to America.

With sports fans safely returning to parks, arenas and stadiums, McLaughlin has been able to take full advantage of American living. He’s been an avid fan of NFL and college football for years, and now he has chosen sides as one must do to be fully engaged in the fandom that surrounds both sports.

“I’ve watched American football for years in Australia, but the time difference makes it so hard to fully immerse yourself in every NFL game, Thursday through Monday,” said McLaughlin. “I knew when I moved over I was going to need to pick a team, and luckily the Team Penske race shop is just outside Charlotte so the Carolina Panthers became a no-brainer.”

Despite the reduced capacity of Bank of America Stadium in 2020, McLaughlin was lucky enough to attend the Panthers game against the New Orleans Saints with Team Penske teammate, Ryan Blaney, last year. McLaughlin witnessed legendary Saints quarterback Drew Brees make his final start in Charlotte. He, like many Panthers fans in 2021, has endured the up-and-down season of the hometown football team. One of the things that has kept fans engaged in recent weeks is the return of longtime quarterback Cam Newton to the Panthers team.

“There were high hopes to start the year but sometimes things can snowball on you and you’ve lost four games in a row,” continued McLaughlin. “But I never thought I’d get to see Cam Newton play so that has injected some excitement into the season. He’s not the Cam of old but he still brings passion that is contagious.”

McLaughlin has also selected a side in the fanatical world of college football, but chances are fans would never guess the team the driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet has chosen to support.

“Obviously, the whole world of college athletics in America is unlike any other throughout the world,” said McLaughlin. “I wanted to choose a major college team without jumping on the bandwagon of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and others, no offense to those teams because they are awesome but it just felt a bit lazy to pick one of them.

“I landed on the Wisconsin Badgers because my spotter, Adam Fournier, is a proud Badger and proud Wisconsin native. They’re a good, solid, perennially top-15 program that just felt right. Now I need to get to a game a Camp Randall (Stadium).”

Golf and the NBA are also passions of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rookie of the year – the first driver to win the award in Team Penske history. He has found a home course in the area to continue to hone his sub-15 handicap on the links. His NBA team? Well, he didn’t have much of a say in that as Karly is a diehard supporter of the New York Knicks, having grown up on Long Island. The two were in attendance at the Charlotte Hornets’ downtown arena on Nov. 12 to watch the Knicks drop a game to their Atlantic Division rivals.

“Definitely wish the Knicks could have pulled that win out, but the Hornets have a very solid team this year,” stated McLaughlin. “At the end of the day, I just love being in the Charlotte area with an NFL and NBA team, along with the MLS team that is coming next year. Lots of buzz in this city and I’m loving every minute of it.”

With simulator work, sponsor appearances and preparations for on-track testing on the horizon when the calendar flips to 2022, McLaughlin is doing much more than just watching other sports these days. The goal for McLaughlin is to build on his rookie season, challenge for wins next year and to enjoy being an American resident for a very long time.

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