There was a Monster lurking at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, but it wasn't the scary kind.
In fact, the big green M -- best known as the logo of Monster Energy Drinks -- made quite an impression. Its team of nine Monster Energy Girls attracted fans and photo-seekers from pit row to the green carpet.
Monster Energy, already a fixture at extreme sporting events such as UFC and supercross, has a two-year sponsorship deal with NASCAR, with a two-year option worth a reported $20 million annually. Monster is only the third entitlement sponsor to have its brand atop NASCAR's premier circuit, and the partnership revolves around the premise that the energy drink can help attract a younger demographic to racing.
"Monster has built its brand on racing and motorsports, and NASCAR is the pinnacle of motorsports in America," said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing at Monster Beverage Company.
Case in point: the tradition of auto racing and pretty girls goes hand-in-hand. That is where the Monster Energy Girls come in.
Just who are the Monster Energy Girls?
The easy answer is that they're some of the most beautiful women in the world. But upon further review, they are an instrumental part of the race-day experience and a huge hit with the fans at the track.
If Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth is any indication, the Monster Energy Girls are just what the doctor ordered to help bring more attention to NASCAR.
There were nine Monster Energy Girls in Fort Worth for the weekend: Jaycee, Mariel, Amanda, Peri, Karlie, Eischen, Allison, Rae and Haley.
While the Monster Energy Girls introduction to NASCAR fans at this year's Daytona 500 may have caused a stir, as opinions varied on their outfits, the exact opposite seemed to be true at TMS, where fans of all ages clamored to have their photos taken with them.
Monster Energy Girls have long been staples at big sporting events such as supercross and professional bull riding, but the foray into NASCAR is not new for Monster Energy Girl Amanda.
"I have been a Monster Energy Girl for a year and a half," Amanda said. "I used to work in NASCAR, there was a program called Miss Coors Light, so I was a brand ambassador for them. That program ended and, ironically, I was already working for Monster for Supercross and they became the new title sponsor for NASCAR.
"Monster Energy and NASCAR together couldn't make for a more perfect job for me," Amanda continued. "Monster Energy has given me the opportunity to travel the world. I'm excited and blessed to be a part of this company because it is going to take NASCAR to the next level."
Monster Energy Girls race day in Fort Worth
The ladies had a full race day in Fort Worth, which got under way around 9 a.m. with the opening of the Monster Fan Zone -- home to the infamous Ball of Steel. At 9:30 a.m., half of the team splits off to attend the driver's meeting and welcome the drivers and VIPs onto the green carpet. The girls took advantage of the time to pass out a plethora of Monster hats and pose for pics with fans on either side of the barricades.
The ladies then made their way to the front stretch and pit row for the driver's introductions and we watched as many fans walked past the drivers to get their pictures taken with the girls.
"I can't wait to send this to my wife," said 48-year-old NASCAR fan Ronnie from Arlington, while looking at his photo with Monster Energy Girl Eischen. "She'll get a kick out of this for sure."
After the green flag was dropped, the Monster Energy Girls were again split up, with some of them going to the Monster Pit Box on pit row and the others going to the Monster Energy hospitality area on the infield near turn 4.
When Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line to win his seventh Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win, the Monster Energy Girls were waiting in Victory Lane and were a part of the trophy presentation.
Monster Energy Girl Haley comes home for O'Reilly Auto Parts 500
The Monster Energy girls are not promo girls that are hired for a few days' work in local markets, but rather professional models hired from an agency and based all across the country. There is not a traditional job interview or audition process, like with a cheer or dance team, but rather the girls are selected from the agency or in some instances, Monster may post about an opening on their social media outlets.
Monster Girl Haley is originally from the DFW area, having grown up in the Dallas suburb Heath. She currently lives in southern California.
"My favorite part about being a Monster Energy Girl is being able to experience the world," Haley said. "I've been to China for the Monster Energy launch and all across America and it's not about just experiencing these events, but meeting people and experiencing their cultures."
Among the places she has traveled with Monster is Fort Worth for the NASCAR race, which allowed her a homecoming of sorts.
"The best part about coming here for the race was getting to see my family and friends and the southern hospitality, man do I miss that," Haley said. "It's my favorite part about Dallas, no matter where you go, you get big smiles and a warm welcome. Everytime they send me to Dallas, it's just the best ever"
FOLLOW JAY BETSILL ON TWITTER @THEFAMOUSJAY