It’s not hard to pick out Adam Poland’s race car on a crowded track. His Mazda Miata is the one with the big paw print on the hood. The puppy paw logo belongs to a company called Majestic Pet, and Poland says that being sponsored by a business known for fluffy dog beds makes his car stand out from the competition.
“A lot of times you see more motorsports-related companies or engineering firms, and then you’ve got us with pet products on our car,” says the 24-year-old driver for the close-knit EasTex Motorsports team.
According to Poland, the partnership with Majestic Pet is more of a passion project for a family-run racing team full of animal lovers than it is a major source of financial support.
“We’ve got other sponsors for that,” says Poland, who notes that his primary sponsor is Edge Addicts, a more traditional motorsports company. “We’ve just always felt strongly about the care of animals and doing the best you can for them.”
Recently, Poland and his crew took time out from a busy day at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to visit the nearby SPCA for Monterey County in California. The shelter is just across the street from the racetrack, and Team Poland came loaded up with donations of Majestic Pet products, but that wasn’t all the shelter received that day.
“Mazda also donated $50,000 to the Monterey SPCA,” explains Poland. “It was quite the generous donation.”
It’s not the first time Mazda has supported the shelter. For the last eight years, Mazda Motorsports and the Sports Car Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) have been working with the SPCA for Monterey County to promote adoption. The collaboration is similar to the work Poland and his team have been doing — promoting animal adoption at various stops on the racing circuit. Poland and his dedicated team (which includes his parents and sister) plan to continue to support shelters through motorsports by working with Majestic Pet again in upcoming seasons.
“What I would ultimately like to have would be almost like a little corral at the track, where you could have a couple dogs and cats from a local shelter. People could come by and potentially adopt these animals — or if they just need a pick-me-up for the day, they could come by and pet a puppy,” says Poland, who adds that the logistics of the plan are still in the works, as the details need to be analyzed on a track-by-track basis.
“Some of the tracks aren’t quite as animal friendly as others,” says the dog lover, who knows what it’s like to have a pup in the paddock. While Poland is joined on the road by his parents and his sister, most of their numerous pets stay back at the family’s country home in East Texas — but there is an exception to that rule.
“We have one dog who travels with us,” explains Poland. “His name is Oakley, and he’s a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix.”
These days, 1-year-old Oakley is enjoying racetrack life as an adorable team mascot, but his future wasn’t always so bright. Before Poland’s sister, Leah, rescued Oakley in October of 2014, the puppy had been living with several other dogs in a backyard and needed a new home fast. When Poland’s sister first took Oakley in, the little pup wasn’t in great shape.
“Half of his tail, the hair was missing, and on some of his paws the hair was missing,” remembers Poland. “He’s very healthy and happy now. He’s a great traveling dog.”
Poland says it’s great to have Oakley on the road with the crew because his own dog, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix named Stilo, is better suited to the country life. According to Poland, Stilo is full of terrier energy and needs space to run. While the little dog loves to play with big-boy Oakley, the combination of the two pups inside the EasTex team’s RV probably would likely result in chaos on the road to the racetrack.
“He’s always shaking and really hyper, and you can’t keep him still long enough for anything,” Poland explains with a laugh.
“Then we have Dot, the English Setter. She is 9 or 10 years old now, and so she’s getting a little too old to travel, and honestly, I don’t think she has any interest. She’s a great dog, but she prefers being in the pastures at home. My other dog is a Pit Bull-Lab mix who just showed up one day at our house.”
Poland’s pet family also includes a couple of cats and a bearded dragon, and the speed-loving Texan is committed to supporting other animals as his fast-paced career continues to gather momentum. He’s looking forward to driving a Mazda 3 in the 2016 season — and hopefully seeing more rescue pets around the track on race days.
“I think we can get a lot of attention and get these animals the homes they need,” Poland says.
The dedicated animal lover ended the 2015 Pirelli World Challenge season as third in drivers’ championship points. He says the key to happiness on the road is simple:
“It’s just puppies and race cars — that’s all it is.”
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About the author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.