For years, NASCAR has been known as a predominantly white sport that catered to that demographic of the country. Well, over the last few years, NASCAR has been on a mission to make their sport more diverse and on Saturday, NASCAR brass was in town as their new property, the ARCA racing series, was on display at the Nashville Fairgrounds Raceway.
As a part of the race festivities, NASCAR had a VIP experience and invited out minority media to check out the race. Although the race did not happen due to weather, plenty of information was passed out as well as good times.
To many this may not have been seen as possible, but the wheels have turned on this for some time now and Caryn Grant, who is the manager of NASCAR’s multicultural development, has been part of creating a space for minorities in NASCAR.
“I was introduced to NASCAR’s multicultural development efforts through my graduate school program which has a focus on diversity and social impact in sports. I joined NASCAR in 2017 and have been able to see the impact of our initiatives both on and off the track through my role as Manager of Multicultural Development.”
Caryn plays an important part in many different programs with the NASCAR Opinion Leader Initiative, the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program (which produced current African-American NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace) and the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.
“The NASCAR Opinion Leader Initiative allows us to engage, connect and partner with diverse businesses, community organizations and local influencers in key race markets, much like the racing event that took place May 4th at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.”
While the NASCAR Opinion Leader Initiative and Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program are huge, so is the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.
“Programs like the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program continue to introduce eager and talented minority students to our organization. Two dozen internship program alumni currently contribute daily as employees and leaders within our industry.”
“Brandon Thompson, Managing Director of NASCAR’s Touring Series, who organized the NASCAR event in Nashville, is a perfect example of the importance of the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program. He began as an intern at Nashville Superspeedway and has risen through the ranks of the industry. “
The drive for NASCAR to be more diverse is becoming more and more evident and another initiative that has begun is the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program.
“The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program is designed to identify, coach, train and develop minority and female collegiate athletes who possess the skill, ability and attitude to be a successful pit crew member in one of the three NASCAR national series. Combines are held at various universities throughout the spring and high performers are invited to compete during our national combine held in Charlotte, N.C. in May. From the national combine, we select a group of athletes who will train with our partner team Rev Racing and Coach Phil Horton. One hundred percent of our program graduates have gone on to work on pit road within our sport with more than 30 currently pitting at our premier level, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.”
NASCAR may have been perceived as one of the least diverse sports out there, but by the efforts of Caryn Grant and others, NASCAR is making strides to be more inclusive and more diverse. And the efforts were definitely noticed by those that were present in Black media.
“The event was well-organized and the hosts were very professional,” Said Eric Nyamor, who was in attendance with all of the media there Saturday night.
Although we did not get to see a race, the experience in itself was one that opened eyes and is indicative of the relationship NASCAR is seeking in trying to diversify its brand.