October 20, 2009, - 11:53 am
You knew this was coming. Even though minorities and women do not traditionally choose to become racing stock car drivers, Jesse Jackson and the rest of the race merchant industry have pressured NASCAR about the low number of Black drivers. And even though Danica Patrick makes millions more in endorsements than most male NASCAR drivers, the execs at NASCAR decided it was necessary to give women a leg up.
So, if you have a darker skin complexion or female internal plumbing you get to be on the fast track in NASCAR a la the NASCAR “Drive for Diversity.” The Drive for Diversity program has been going on for a while, but NASCAR has ramped it up this year, getting sponsors, spending millions, and getting its minority candidates lots of exposure to owners and racing teams that your average aspiring NASCAR White guys will never ever get. And although the Drive for Diversity hasn’t placed a racer on the main NASCAR circuit yet, you can bet the pressure’s on to do so, and they’ll probably use a little more affirmative action to make that happen real soon.
In its quest to infuse NASCAR with a more multicultural image, Drive for Diversity is getting a new look, too.
The program, which will conclude its two-day annual driver combine Wednesday in Radford, Va., with 30 candidates vying to fill 10 spots in the 2010 class, has been overhauled with an emphasis on centralization in its seventh year.
After farming out minority and female drivers to short-track teams nationwide, Drive for Diversity has switched to an “academy-style” format and will field four Camping World East and six Whelen All-American teams as Revolution Racing under the umbrella of the 909 Group, a sports and marketing agency whose CEO is former Dale Earnhardt Inc. executive Max Siegel.
Revolution Racing will be based out of a former Nationwide team shop in Mooresville, N.C., and will employ at least 40 crewmembers. Siegel says the organization is building alliances with first-tier NASCAR organizations such as Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing that will provide technical support and training.
Siegel says the changes were made in response to industry feedback on Drive for Diversity, which hasn’t placed any drivers in NASCAR’s three national series since its 2004 inception.
“We wanted good, consistent equipment so we can measure the impact,” Siegel says. “It was hard to evaluate how the kids were dong [DS: sic] with so many variables, but we can if we get the best cars in one place. We also can give the participants more instruction and opportunities to interact with Cup teams.”
He says there’s been more interest from sponsors and the news media. The combine at Motor Mile Speedway was sponsored by Sunoco and filmed for an eight-part documentary called Changing Lanes that will air on BET (Black Entertainment Television) starting in late February.
The 10 drivers will be chosen by the end of November, and Revolution Racing also will support several Bandoleros cars for minorities ages 8-15 who are getting a start in racing.
White guys need not apply.
And by the way, I notice that there aren’t many Jews in racing (and far more Arabs–the Rahals, Tony Kanaan, etc.). But that’s because–like Blacks and women–most Jews don’t choose a life in NACAR or IRL, etc. Unlike Jesse Jackson, I won’t be pushing for a Drive for Bagels & Lox racing school.
Can’t wait until they have the NASCAR Drive (& Explode) for allah school.
By the way, if you pay for NASCAR tickets or buy NASCAR merchandise, you are helping subsidize Drive for Diversity.
Tags: 909 Group, Bet, Blacks, Camping World East, Changing Lanes, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Drive for Diversity, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Max Siegel, minorities, Motor Mile Speedway, Nascar, Rahal, Revolution Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Tony Kanaan, Whelen All-American, Women