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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hey, Where's the Diversity?

NASCAR has implemented a Drive for Diversity initiative, but there is little evidence of inclusion.

Diversity has become the buzzword in motorsports. As the sport continues to grow globally, there has been an outcry for more visible and diverse, owners, drivers, and engineers. NASCAR has implemented a Drive for Diversity initiative, but there is little evidence of inclusion.

Racing is an expensive business with yearly budgets soaring well over $40 million. It is not my opinion that NASCAR or any other sanctioning body should make any unusual concessions to attract minority participants. The sport was not built on handouts and freebies. However, if a program has been created to serve this purpose, then there should be new faces in new places.

The Urban Youth Racing School is wonderful program dedicated to the immersion and preparation of urban youths in motorsports. Last year, Sprint Nextel made a large donation to the UYRS. The UYRS is headquartered in Philadelphia and recently moved to Washington DC.

For those of us that LISTEN to the telecasts of NASCAR events, such as qualifying sessions and the races, the UYRS has been mentioned frequently. Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Tony Stewart has been mentioned on several occasions as a staunch supporter of the Urban Youth Racing School.

The problem I have with NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity and the UYRS is that qualified people of diverse backgrounds are denied access to these opportunities. I speak from experience. I have gone down the Drive for Diversity path for several years and have not received so much as a “thanks but no thanks” letter. Recently, I sent my résumé to the UYRS and have yet to hear anything regarding my inquiry. Granted, I am not an engineer or a team owner, but I have followed and participated in racing for much of my life.

I feel that it would be easier to attract minority interest when you find the minorities that have a true passion and skill for a career in motorsports. There are careers in auto racing that do not involve driving. Fortunately, I have raced and have prepared for a career in motorsport outside of the cockpit.

It is great to hear that there are programs in place to aid with minority involvement in motorsport. Progress will be made when there are more diverse engineers and behind the scene professionals are hired. Other major auto racing series should follow NASCAR’s lead.

photo of Anthony Martin, UYRS founder, awarded Urban Wheel courtesy of Steed Media Service


Texas said...

This past October, 2007, 24 selected young men and women were invited to South Boston, VA to the Drive for Diversity Compound, as they call it. There were supposed to be 8 team owners there to select 8 of the drivers to sponsor for the 2008 Season in the Grand Nation Bush East or West program. There were some really good drivers there. Some impressed the few "officials" who were there, some more than others.
The cars, 3 of them were all broken before the 5th driver had finish their 20 lap run. This caused a long delay waiting for the cars to be repaired.
The final results of the 2 day affair; NOTHING. It turns out there were NO team owners signed up to sponsor anyone.
Just a lot of hipe, promises, disapointed young drivers who had been promsed a chance but got nothing.
If the DRIVE FRO DIVERSITY is really sanctioned, backed, sponsored, or whatever, by NASCAR, someone has really dropped the ball.
I have never been so disapointed in any thing that has been pumped up to be something that turned out to be nothing.

Heel Toe said...

I am sorry for your frustration. That sounded like a good chance to get more people involved. Have you written a formal letter to NASCAr and the Drive for Diversity program? Let them know that you are not happy. I can pass along a contact if you like.