Columbus Native Matt Kaulig Takes Unconventional Route To NASCAR Ownership

Written By Chris Imperiale on April 18, 2022 - Last Updated on May 30, 2022

While many involved in the NASCAR start developing for the sport at a young age, that’s not always the case. Some, like Ohio-born Matt Kaulig, found a path through a lot of hard work and passion.

The former University of Akron quarterback saw plenty of success at the college level, inducted into the Zips’ Hall of Fame in 2015.

The Columbus native made a name for himself as an effective entrepreneur through his LeafFilter Gutter Protection technology. The company, founded in his basement in 2005, is now extremely profitable with more than 130 offices in the US and Canada.

Oddly enough, LeafFilter led him into motorsports, where he eventually founded his NASCAR team, Kaulig Racing, in 2016. Since then, Kaulig and his team have continued to make strides and now feature a unit that includes multiple cars.

Ohio natives currently can’t legally bet on Kaulig’s team. However, Ohio sports betting is expected to launch in January of 2023.

Kaulig Racing starts from scratch

Matt Kaulig wasn’t exactly born into a racing family, but his dad led him to where Kaulig Racing is today. He worked for a brake company that got involved in NASCAR through a sponsorship.

Between the NASCAR scene, along with the Indy races, Matt began to love the sport. Despite not driving himself because of his focus on more common American sports like football and baseball, racing stuck with him.

Once his LeafFilter brand was big enough, Matt decided to make a similar move to his father. Kaulig entered NASCAR as a sponsor in 2014. For two years, his LeafFilter gutter company draped its name on the car of a NASCAR contender.

Being the businessperson he is, Kaulig saw some of the behind-the-scenes workings of the teams. He thought, “I think I can do this myself.”

That’s when he spoke with Chris Rice, the now President of Kaulig Racing. They discussed what it would take to get this project off the ground.

Together, Rice and Kaulig hired an entire staff, from drivers to engineers. They built a race shop, and just like that, Kaulig Racing launched in 2016.

Kaulig Racing on the NASCAR podium

Matt Kaulig knew his squad could probably use some assistance at the start, though. He teamed up with Richard Childress Racing for a technical partnership. This included the use of ECR engines.

Today, the team features five total cars and drivers. It has three Chevrolets in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and two full-time vehicles in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Combined, Kaulig Racing accounts for 15 wins, three pole positions, 77 top-five finishes, and 173 races within the top 10.

Matt explained how having a background in sports and management through his role at Akron, as well as LeafFilter, helped him along the way. He said:

“So I think that’s probably been the biggest factor in being able to build a business or build a race team, the leadership aspect. When you’re a quarterback, you don’t have a choice but to lead.”

Kaulig attributed these skills to the reason his new NASCAR venture is doing so well. Even though Kaulig and his team are competing against the likes of legends in the sport, their trust in their internal process is providing good results.

Kaulig’s other business ventures

Naturally, Kaulig is involved with lots of additional businesses outside of gutter protection and NASCAR. He created a media company and his own foundation based on philanthropy.

Kaulig Media covers digital marketing, event management, and branding as a full-service agency.

Kaulig Giving helps children and families in Northeast Ohio in a variety of ways. It was established in 2018 and already has more than 100 partnerships with similar organizations.

It’s clear this Ohio native is a progressive thinker who won’t forget his roots and where this journey all began.

Photo by AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Chris Imperiale Avatar
Written by
Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

View all posts by Chris Imperiale