#D4DC11: Scenes from the NASCAR Diversity Combine

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After a rainy first day, it was all sunshine and fast cars at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., Thursday as the 2011 Drive for Diversity Combine concluded with 26 talented drivers participating in the on-track testing.

The drivers are competing for spots on the 2012 Rev Racing team as part of Drive for Diversity, one of NASCAR’s most successful initiatives.

“Every year it’s great to see the quality of talent is improving and the word’s getting out,” said Max Siegel, CEO and owner of Revolution Racing. “We had some really talented young drivers here today and we’re just excited to get them on the track.

“It’s going to be tough to fill the spots on the team because we had so many talented drivers here.”

Rev Racing is in its third year as a partner with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity initiative. In 2011, Revolution Racing (now Rev Racing) drivers Darrell Wallace Jr. and Sergio Pena accounted for six wins in the 12-race NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season.

“It’s exciting to see the evolution in the program,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development. “The success on track in 2011 certainly attracted additional talent to the Combine, and based on what we saw today, there are a couple of new standout drivers who are ready to follow in Wallace’s and Pena’s path.”

The drivers who participated in the Combine ranged from ages 16 to 24, and represented 10 U.S. states, Mexico and Puerto Rico. It attracted drivers from various racing disciplines, from open-wheel sprint cars to Legends cars and Bandoleros. The drivers with limited stock car experience impressed with how quickly they adapted to the heavier cars, while the returning participants continued to show improvement.

After waiting out the showers that cancelled Wednesday’s on-track testing, the drivers were looking forward to the chance to get behind the wheel – and they weren’t disappointed.

“We had a really great Combine run; we did really well, I’m proud of my run,” said Jessica Brunelli, 18, from Hayward, Calif., who was trying out for the third time after being part of Rev Racing for the previous two seasons. “It’s a great opportunity and a great program, and I’m really lucky I get to drive with all these amazing people.”

“Today was really cool, the car was awesome and the people were really great to work with. The car was really good. When the track was really cold it took a while to get the tires heated up, but it was awesome and I hope they were good results,” said Julian Albarracin, from Bogota, Colombia, who then provided a recap of his day in Spanish. “El carro estuvo muy bien, la gente trabajo muy bien, nunca habia visto gente trabajando asi. Nunca habia provado un carro tan bueno como un late model que prove hoy. La pista estaba muy fria, tomo mucho tiempo para calentar las llantas y calentar el motor pero salio muy bien, me senti muy bien y espero buenos resultados.”

“It’s been a great day so far,” said newcomer Ryan Reed, a 17-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif. “I logged some really good laps, I’m really happy with myself, and we’ll see what that has in store for us when they announce the driver lineup for next year.”

The drivers attending the Drive for Diversity Combine will be evaluated by a select committee on multiple fronts including on-track performance, marketing and media aptitude, physical fitness and personality.

24 drivers to compete for spots with Revolution Racing(now Rev Racing)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A life-changing opportunity could one day evolve into a sport-shaping career for 24 young men and women come the middle of next week.

Contested from Oct. 18-20, the eighth consecutive Drive for Diversity Combine will be held at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., where drivers will vie for spots in one of NASCAR’s most successful initiatives.

Aspiring drivers of diverse backgrounds ranging from ages 16 to 24, and representing 10 U.S. states, Mexico and Puerto Rico, are prepared to showcase their skills in the hopes of securing a ride with Rev Racing in 2012. Rev Racing will enter its third year fielding teams for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity initiative, in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

[callout_left]Grandstands at Langley will be open to the public from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. ET, Oct. 19-20 during on-track testing. [/callout_left]

The past two seasons of the D4D initiative have enjoyed unparalleled success. In 2010, Darrell Wallace Jr. became the youngest winner and first African-American winner in series history en route to winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Sunoco Rookie of the Year. This year’s Revolution Racing team eclipsed that success by placing three drivers in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East top 10 (Wallace had three victories and finished second in points; Sergio Pena also won three races and finished fifth; and Ryan Gifford finished 10th).  Overall in 2011, Revolution Racing(now Rev Racing) had six wins, 12 top fives and 22 top 10s in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

The drivers attending the Drive for Diversity Combine will be evaluated by a select committee on multiple fronts including on-track performance, marketing and media aptitude, physical fitness and personality.

2012 DRIVER FOR DIVERSITY COMBINE: INVITE LIST

Driver Age Hometown Twitter
Ryan Gifford 22 Winchester, Tenn. @ryangifford2
Angelique Bell 17 Roseville, Calif.
Jessica Brunelli 18 Hayward, Calif. @brunelliracing
Sergio Pena 18 Catharpin, Va. @thesspena
Mackena Bell 19 Carson City, Nev. @mackenabell
Michael Cherry 20 Valrico, Fla. @fastcherry
Jorge Arteaga 23 Agualcalientas, Mexico @jorgearteaga46
Jack Madrid 16 San Clemente, Calif.
Kyle Larson 19 Elk Grove, Calif. @kylelarsonracin
Frank Young 19 Fontana, Calif.
Dylan Smith 17 Randolph, Vt.
Devon Amos 18 Rio Rancho, N.M. @devonamos
Annabeth Barnes 20 Hiddenite, N.C. @annabethh
Bryan Ortiz 21 Bayamon, P.R. @bryanoracing
Amber Colvin 18 Tallahassee, Fla. @ambercolvin01
Ruben Garcia 16 Mexico City, Mexico @rubengarcia4
Lindsey Holman 23 Abingdon, Va. @LJHolman75
Ryan Reed 17 Bakersfield, Calif. @ryanreed04
Trey Gibson 18 Easley, S.C. @ tgibsonracing
Dallas Montes 17 Bakersfield, Calif. @racinshoe17
Juan Carlos Blum 16 Guadalajara, Mexico @jcblum13
Enrique Contreras 18 Cuernavaca Morelos, Mexico @contreraskike
Tayla Orleans 17 Randleman, N.C. @taylaorleans93
Alexis Wilson 16 Hamburg, N.Y.