By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor
Loud noises and motorsports have been virtually synonymous with one another since the beginning whether it’s from the engines or crashes. As such, a crossover between rock music and NASCAR is only natural. During a crossover for ‘Sink In’s “Cabin Fever” music video, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ryan Vargas embraced his inner rock star.
The crossover between the band and Dawson Cram, Brad Perez, Garrett Smithley, and Vargas came about from connections between the two industries. Perez has been a leader in connecting the musical world and NASCAR in recent years, most famously with ‘I Set My Friends on Fire’ sponsoring his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Chevrolet at Sonoma Raceway in 2022.
Fast forward to 2023 and the four up-and-coming NASCAR drivers joined with Tighe Eshelman (lead vocals), Corbrette Bardole (guitar), Josh Lamczyk (guitar), and Sam Clepper (drums) at the Concord Speedpark. Vargas never saw himself going to concerts, but has fallen in love with the rock genre, having been able to meet the members of several bands.
“I’ve known Tighe from Sink In for a little while now through knowing a bunch of buddies who are now in the music industry,” Vargas explained. “Brad, obviously, he’s one of the guys that’s kind of helped get me connected as well. And I’ve been to plenty of their shows now. I love their music. They do a phenomenal job with everything, and it’s been really fun to meet some of these bands, some of these groups.
“I’ve been able to meet, the folks from Sink In, Afterlife, I Set My Friends on Fire, all these groups. I never saw myself going to shows like this and going to like, listening to rock music and going to all this stuff. But it’s so fun. And I have such a genuine good time and that’s what they’re about.
As part of the music video, each driver went up against a band member in a one-on-one Go Kart race. First Lamczyk faced off against Smithley with the professional racer taking the win. Next up Clepper raced against Cram with the musician taking the checkered flag. Bardole then faced off against Vargas, narrowly taking the win. In the final race, ‘Bread’ Perez took the win in an ‘all or nothing fight’ with Eshleman.
While in the music video the races culminated in photo finishes, the overall racing was fun. Vargas was caught off guard by Bardole’s speed and had to play catch up. Following the one-on-one races, all were on track in a final race for the video.
“Cobrette, one of the guitarists of Sink In, he actually has a background in motorsport being around it,” Vargas recalled. “At first you see a part of the video where like, I’m kind of like behind him. I was going really easy and then all sudden he passed me and took off, and I was like ‘oh shit I got catch up.’ I had to speed up and try and catch him. I actually had to race him, and they didn’t stage any finishes, but they said like, ‘hey, we’re going to do a photo finish this time.’ We would actually be racing to line, and he got me by like an inch at the line. So technically Cobrette won.”
Following the final race, the NASCAR drivers, still in the driver uniforms, took over the stage. Perez played well in the pocket on drums, taking Clepper’s place. Cram and Smithley both did their best impression of guitarists, filling in for Bardole and Lamczyk. That left Vargas to take over lead vocals from Eshleman.
The four drivers all had fun being a ‘band’ while also getting a chance to represent their various sponsors. Vargas proudly represented Lear Gas Security and Critical Path Security in the video, though he did check-in for permission to use the firesuit in the video.
“They’re about having a good time and spreading incredibly fun music,” Vargas said. “It was really cool to be part of that music video. It was also cool (that) I was able to call my sponsor, Patrick Kelly, over at Lear Gas Security and Critical Path Security and say, ‘hey, do you mind if I wear your race suit for a video? It’s a music video,’ and his response was ‘I’d be pissed off if you didn’t.’
“I volunteered as the lead singer and I wore his headband because Tighe always wears his headband whenever he’s performing and so I wore his headband, and he said I was like the only other person that wore head wore his headband.”
Embracing the role of a lead vocalist, Vargas was a natural. To better fit in the role, he even took Eshleman’s headband, getting into character. Both the members of Sink In and the Concord Speedpark staff made it a fun experience to be a part of.
“I felt natural, I feel natural, man, I like being in front of the camera,” Vargas joked. “That’s easy stuff. It was hot. We were very sweaty, but it was worth it. And honestly, the Concord Speedpark was a really good host of all of us there. They did a really good job helping the folks at Sink In. Those guys, they did it, they put on such a fun music video, and it was fun to be a part of and that it was unique to be a part of a music video. I never thought I’d be in a music video, but it was really cool to be a part of.”
It was a unique opportunity for all parties involved, one though rare, is not unheard of in NASCAR. Both Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart were featured in ‘3 Doors Down’ “The Road I’m On,” Earnhardt later was in ‘Nickelback’s “Rockstar.” Richard Petty, Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain, and Daniel Suarez have all either been featured in or referenced in music videos as well.
The crossover between Sink In and NASCAR provides an opportunity to introduce the Los Angeles, Calif.-based band, and the sport, to new audiences. It also serves to strengthen the connection between NASCAR and the music community overall.
Per their website, Sink In’s next scheduled tour date is at the famous Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, Calif. on January 7, 2024.
Meanwhile for the NASCAR drivers, the next schedule race weekend on track for the three National Touring Series is the season opening weekend at Daytona Int’l Speedway February 13 through 18.