NASCAR deserves praise for diversity efforts – Quad-Cities Online




I do not often delve into the world of NASCAR in this space because there is so much coverage of its programs elsewhere. However, once in a while something comes up that has earned attention. That often has proven to be its diversity program.

One of the biggest challenges ahead for motorsports is figuring out how to appeal to a broader and younger audience. One way is to have a younger and more diverse employee base. NASCAR is pursuing this in a variety of ways.

Most visible in racing are the drivers, so NASCAR has a program of supporting talented and more diverse young drivers through its Drive for Diversity program.

NASCAR also has a Diversity Internship Program, which has made some significant strides. Recently, 14 former NDIP interns now working in the industry full-time helped mentor students through a 10-week paid internship. Twenty-six interns from across the country gathered recently in Charlotte during the Monster Energy All-Star Race weekend.

“For nearly 20 years, the NASCAR Diversity Internship program has provided talented students with hands-on experience in the motorsports industry,” Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, said in a news release. “The program has also helped NASCAR identify future leaders in the industry and continues to serve as an important part of our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.”

In addition to NASCAR, this year’s interns will be working at NASCAR partner companies, including Rev Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Pocono Raceway, Toyota and the International Speedway Corporation.

Over the past 18 years, NDIP has introduced hundreds of students from diverse backgrounds to professional opportunities in NASCAR. The program has also served as a pipeline for identifying and hiring top talent across the motorsports industry.

This year’s 26 interns come from 26 different colleges and universities — mostly located in the south. Internships are available to college sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate students across the country. To be eligible, students must be in good standing with their school and community and have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Throughout the internship, the students gain experience working in marketing, engineering, public relations, licensing, diversity and public affairs. They will also learn from leading NASCAR executives in weekly lunch-and-learn sessions and networking events with professionals across the industry.

NASCAR pit crew combine: NASCAR’s efforts toward diversity extend not only into the cockpit and many front-office functions, but also to pit crews. On May 26, a select group of former college football, basketball, softball and track and field athletes put their pit crew skills to the test in the second annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity National Pit Crew Combine presented by Goodyear.

Earlier this year, NASCAR and Rev Racing hosted tryouts at six universities: Alcorn State, Arizona State, Bethune-Cookman, Norfolk State, San Diego State and Virginia State. Thirteen men and four women took part in a four-hour skills competition led by Phil Horton, Rev Racing director of athletic performance. They were evaluated based on a series of fitness, agility and pit crew drills and competitions at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C.

Top-performing participants will be invited to join NASCAR Drive for Diversity’s crew member development program, operated by Rev Racing, and will receive expert training as tire changers, carriers and jackmen as they pursue full-time employment with NASCAR national series race teams.

Thirty-five NASCAR Drive for Diversity pit crew graduates are working now in NASCAR, including 25 alums pitting in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

NASCAR at Iowa: Do not forget that NASCAR is coming to town this weekend at Iowa Speedway. For the second consecutive year, Iowa Speedway will pair the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with the NASCAR XFinity Series on the same weekend.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Iowa 200 starts action off with practice at 9 and 11:15 a.m. Friday. That is followed by NASCAR XFinity Series practice at 1 p.m. with final practice at 4 p.m. Truck Series qualifying begins at 5:05 p.m. Drivers introductions are at 7 p.m. with the green flag for the Camping World Truck Series at 7:30 p.m. A post-race concert will be Easton Corbin.

Action continues Saturday when spectator gates open at 3 p.m. XFinity qualifying is at 5:15 p.m. followed by driver introductions at 7 p.m. and XFinity Series American Ethanol E15 250 racing at 7: 30.



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