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Friday, October 26, 2007

Diversity is Key to Success of Global Motorsport

Racing governing bodies need to find a way to attract and retain more owners of diverse backgrounds. This is the first in a series of minority achievement.

Lately, the buzzword in auto racing has been diversity. NASCAR has taken the lead in diversity efforts with the inception of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. It should be noted that other forms of racing have attracted minority owners and drivers too.

NASCAR fans have undoubtedly heard of Felix Sabates. Felix Sabates entered the world of stock car racing as an owner in 1987. He purchased a research and development team from Rick Hendrick. Currently, Sabates is co- owner of Ganassi Racing. Felix Sabates is of Cuban descent and has enjoyed success in a various forms of auto racing ranging from stock cars to endurance sportscar racing.

Athletes from other sports and entertainers have tested the waters of motorsport team ownership. In 1991, popular comedian Bill Cosby entered into multi million dollar sponsorship and promotional agreement to help driver Willy T. Ribbs become the first Black American to compete in the Indianapolis 500. Hip- hop artist Nelly has been a part owner as well. In March of 2003, the rapper bought a share of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck team.

Former boxer George Foreman, National Basketball Association star Carmelo Anthony, and Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton have gone into open wheeled racing ownership. Baltimore Raven linebacker, Ray Lewis, hopes to partner with NFL great Gale Sayres to start a team in the ChampCar World Series.

This is the first in a series detailing the careers and achievements of people with diverse backgrounds in motorsports. Motorsport needs influential people from all walks of life in order to attract a more diverse audience.

photo of Felix Sabates

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