Drive for Diversity Combine Set for Virginia’s Motor Mile Speedway

Mooresville, N.C. (Oct. 14, 2010) – Thirty-Five drivers from 18 states, Mexico and Puerto Rico are prepared to showcase their skills at the seventh annual Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco Sunday through Tuesday at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. The drivers, ranging in age from 16 to 26, hope to earn a spot on the Revolution Racing team that will again field teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.  Drivers on the 2010 Revolution Racing team enjoyed the best on-track season in the history of the Drive for Diversity program, earning four victories, 42 top-five finishes and 80 top 10s in 141 starts.  Included in that number were impressive results in the highly competitive NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.  Ryan Gifford, Sergio Pena and Darrell Wallace Jr. each competed in all 10 Series races, while Mackena Bell (six races), Michael Cherry (three races) and Mark Davis (one race) each took turns driving the fourth Revolution Racing car.  These four teams scored two wins, 10 top fives and 15 top 10s. The drivers attending the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco will be evaluated on multiple fronts during the Combine including on-track performance, marketing and media aptitude, physical fitness, personality and more. Following the three-day assessment, the results will be evaluated by a committee that will select participants for the 2011 season. Grandstands at Motor Mile Speedway will be open to the public Monday and Tuesday with on-track testing scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. [frame_toggle title=”Participating Drivers”]
  • Jorge Arteaga – Agualcalientes, Mexico, Age 24
  • Kelsey Bauer – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, 21
  • Mackena Bell – Carson City, Nevada, 20
  • Juan Carlos Blum – Miami, Florida, 16
  • Brandy Bower – Marysville, Ohio, 23
  • Jessica Brunelli – Haywood, California, 17
  • Katrina Canney – Charlotte, North Carolina, 20
  • Cole Carbrera – Exeter, California, 16
  • Michael Cherry – Valrico, Florida, 21
  • Enrique Contreras – Mexico, 18
  • Heather DesRochers – Granby, Massachusetts, 21
  • Brittany Finley – Ardmore, Alabama, 24
  • Cassie Gannis – Phoenix, Arizona, 19
  • Trey Gibson – Easley, South Carolina, 18
  • Ryan Gifford – Winchester, Tennessee, 21
  • Katie Hagar – Damariscotta, Maine, 24
  • Sloan Henderson – Franklin, Ohio, 17
  • Rebecca Kasten – Mequon, Wisconsin, 20
  • Ali Kern – Fremont, Ohio, 17
  • Julia Landauer – New York, New York, 18
  • Amanda Lynch – Greenville, South Carolina, 21
  • Clinton Mills – Indian Trail, North Carolina, 23
  • Dallas Montes – Bakersfield, California, 16
  • Jeff Oleen – Bethesda, Maryland, 20
  • Tayla Orleans – Randleman, North Carolina, 17
  • Bryan Ortiz – Bayamon, Puerto Rico, 21
  • Sergio Pena – Winchester, Virginia, 17
  • Matthew Piercy – Conover, North Carolina, 16
  • Troy Rave – Westby, Wisconsin, 21
  • Ryan Reed – Bakersfield, California, 16
  • Jason Romero – Cameron Park, California, 26
  • Dylan Smith – Randolph, Vermont, 17
  • Lacey Tuttle – Elmwood, Nebraska, 21
  • Darrell Wallace Jr. – Concord, N.C., 17
  • Kristen Wallace – Jasper, Georgia, 17[/frame_toggle]
[frame_toggle title=”ABOUT DRIVE FOR DIVERSITY”]Drive for Diversity is the industry’s leading development program for minority and female drivers and crew members.  The Drive for Diversity program currently supports drivers in two of NASCAR’s development series – the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.  Drive for Diversity also supports crew member candidate through a year-long pit crew training program.  Crew members have gone on to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Diversity is NASCAR’s top corporate initiative.  The Drive for Diversity program has been successful in creating meaningful opportunities for minority and female competitors.  The program helps to further diversity NASCAR’s participant and audience base.  The program has seen continuous growth since its inception in 2004.[/frame_toggle]

Nascar Turns to TV to Boost Minorities (New York Times)

A few clicks on the Web site of Black Entertainment Television leads viewers to a short Nascar tutorial filled with information about popular drivers, racetracks and salaries. It may seem odd to find a sport so closely tied to white Southern men featured on a Web site devoted to African-American entertainment, but it represents Nascar’s latest attempt to build a following for minority drivers it hopes to develop into stars. Nascar is behind a new reality television series on BET, “Changing Lanes,” that will make its debut at 8 on Wednesday night. A field of 30 minority drivers will be narrowed to 10, who will live together for a month as they compete on the track and prepare in the classroom for the chance to race in a high-profile event and ultimately succeed in Nascar. The series is the brainchild of Max Siegel, a former music industry executive and global president of Dale Earnhardt Inc., who became involved with Nascar’s diversity effort in 2003 when the Hall of Fame football player Reggie White tried to start a minority-based race team. White died in 2004 before seeing his dream come true, but the effort to draw minorities has continued. Read more…

RIF Partners with NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity to Bring Racing Excitement to Charlotte Schools

On June 1 and 3, Reading Is Fundamental partnered with Revolution Racing’s Drive for Diversity to bring NASCAR excitement to book distributions at Amay James Pre-K and Plaza Road Pre-K in Charlotte, N.C. RIF could find no better partner in Charlotte, N.C. to support our Multicultural Literacy Campaign than the Drive for Diversity initiative, which shares RIF’s goal of reaching out to young people in minority communities. Drive for Diversity is NASCAR’s top corporate initiative bringing minority and female drivers to the racing circuit. The goal of the initiative is to diversify NASCAR’s competitor and audience base, introducing a new generation of race fans to the sport. Read more…

D4D Pit Crew Athletes Find Victory Lane in Talladega

Lionel Legra and Kevin Richardson, both members of the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program presented by Sprint, went to victory lane at Talladega Superspeedway Friday afternoon with Dakoda Armstrong’s No. 22 ARCA Racing Series car. It is the first win for both pit crew athletes. “Dakoda ran an awesome race,” said Richardson, who changes tires for the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports team. “To win from the pole at Talladega is amazing and I’m so glad to be a part of this team and this experience. This is the place where everyone wants to get a win, and now I can say I’ve been to victory lane at Talladega.” Richardson has been training with the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program presented by Sprint, based out of the Revolution Racing shop in Mooresville, N.C.,  since the beginning of the year. Legra joined the D4D program in mid-2009. Through the program, both participate in pit practice three days a week and have had the opportunity to work weekend ARCA Racing Series events with Cunningham Motorsports. “When we bring pit crew athletes into the program, they first have to learn their position, whether they are a tire carrier, changer or jackman,” said Phil Horton, Pit Coach for the Drive for Diversity program. “Once they’ve shown an understanding of the fundamentals and the athleticism and mindset required for the job, they are ready to go over-the-wall in a development series, such as ARCA. As they show improvement, they can move up to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and eventually to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.” Legra and Richardson will continue to work with Cunningham Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series throughout the 2010 season. Other D4D Pit Crew News: Four other members of the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program presented by Sprint were also in Talladega this weekend. Tesfa Lee and Richie Williams worked on the pit crew for the No. 16 Coulter Motorsports team. Rayshaud Barkley and Marcus McGruder pitted for the No. 77 Cunningham Motorsports team. Williams was also recently hired as a full-time mechanic for Germain Racing. He will also serve as a back-up jackman for the team. Williams will continue to practice with the D4D Crew Member Development Program presented by Sprint and work weekends as a jackman with an ARCA team until he is ready to move into an over-the-wall position full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck, Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series.

NASCAR Honors Wendell Scott’s First NASCAR Sprint Cup Start

In honor of the anniversary of African-American racing trailblazer Wendell Scott making his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, vehicles competing this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway had a commemorative decal baring the image of Scott. Scott made his first start in NASCAR’s premier series on March 4, 1961 at Spartanburg, S.C. On Dec. 1, 1963 in Jacksonville, Fla., Scott became the first African-American to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup event, a distinction he still holds. To further recognize the occasion this weekend at AMS, Sybil Scott, daughter of the late Scott, was in attendance as were NASCAR Drive for Diversity competitors Michael Cherry, Ryan Gifford, Jason Romero and Darrell Wallace Jr. Romero was last season’s winner of the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award, given annually to a female or minority driver in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series who personifies excellence on and off the race track. Above: Drive for Diversity competitors Michael Cherry, Ryan Gifford, Jason Romero and Darrell Wallace Jr. with Sybil Scott.

Driver Bell Makes Reality TV Debut (RJG.com)

What started as a family hobby has become a full-time occupation for Mackena Bell. Bell, of Carson City, is receiving what can be considered a formal education in the sport. Bell is the only female of four drivers in a reality TV show called “Changing Lanes.” The show is scheduled to air on BET early this summer. Bell is in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, and she will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, two steps below the Sprint Cup. The series starts March 27 and races on the East Coast. In 2009, Bell was the highest finishing female in Super Late Models at Toyota Speedway in Southern California, with a third-place finish. She moved to North Carolina in January to work with the Revolution Racing Team, under the guidance of CEO Max Siegel. “She’s got the right attitude. She’s extremely charismatic. She’s incredible with sponsors and fans,” Siegel said. “Her energy is infectious.” Read the rest of the story at RJG.com

BET enhances visibility of Drive for Diversity (The Sporting News)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Two major developments in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program ensure the strengthening of both the performance aspects and the visibility of the venture. In announcing its 2010 D4D lineup, NASCAR also provided a sneak preview of the eight-episode series Changing Lanes, which BET will televise later this year. Produced by NASCAR Media Group, Changing Lanes follows the progress of 30 aspiring D4D drivers from competition in a combine at Motor Mile Speedway (Radford, Va.) through the selection of four candidates for the development K&N Pro Series East. All told, 11 drivers were selected for the 2010 D4D class, which will compete under the banner of Revolution Racing, headed by former Dale Earnhardt Inc. president Max Siegel. Veteran driver and car owner Andy Santerre is competition director for the team. Read more on The Sporting News

NASCAR celebrates diversity accomplishments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR on Tuesday celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of pioneering individuals and organizations in the area of diversity at the third annual NASCAR Diversity Luncheon. “Teams, tracks, sponsors and other stakeholders play an integral role in our efforts to further diversify our sport,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR’s managing director of public affairs. “The NASCAR Diversity Awards are a small way to say thank you and recognize just a few of those making a difference in creating awareness and opportunity.” During a ceremony held in the Bill France Room at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR recognized the following individuals and organizations across the industry for their outstanding impact: Drive for Diversity Participant: Paul Harraka Harraka, 20, of Wayne, N.J., returns to the Drive for Diversity program for the fifth year in 2010 and will race in the K&N Pro Series West. Harraka, who is of Syrian descent, has a racing resume that extends from go-karts to K&N Pro Series cars. Harraka has won a total of 158 races in all types of race cars. In 2007, Harraka was named All-American Speedway’s NASCAR Late Model Rookie of the Year. In 2008, he won the Whelen All-American Series Championship when he won 11 times. During his rookie season in the K&N Pro Series West, he won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award while winning two races. He is currently a sophomore at Duke University majoring in public policy. Young Racer Award: Amber Colvin Amber Colvin, 16, hails from Tallahassee, Fla. Colvin has been racing since 2004 in Bandoleros and Legends cars and placed second in the Georgia Winter Points Series in her first season racing Bandoleros. In 2008, she made the switch to Legends cars. In the Legends cars, Colvin had 39 starts, 24 top-5 and 36 top-ten finishes, including six wins. Colvin is affiliated with the Lyn St. James Driver Development Program. NASCAR Diversity Internship Program: Arionne Allen Arionne Allen, 23, of Mauldin, S.C., was an intern last summer in the NASCAR Series Operations department in Daytona Beach where she performed a number of integral duties. Allen was responsible for everything from the on-track schedule to ensuring all cars participating in racing events had the proper decals for the NASCAR contingency program, and that all decals were within guidelines. She was very much on the front line of NASCAR’s business. Allen also worked very closely with drivers and teams to ensure compliance with NASCAR agreements. Allen currently works for Revolution Racing in Mooresville, N.C. Educational Institutional Award: NASCAR Technical Institute The NASCAR Technical Institute was recognized for this award given to a college/university that attracts and trains diverse students for careers in the motorsports industry with a relevant curriculum. NTI, a branch of Universal Technical Institute, is the exclusive educational partner of NASCAR located in Mooresville, N.C.. As the first technical training school to officially combine a complete automotive technology training program with NASCAR specific courses, NTI addresses the nation’s shortage of automotive technicians by boosting the number of entry-level technicians entering the workforce. Students get hands-on experience in engines and repair, fuel and ignition systems, power trains, brakes, transmissions, electronics and diagnostic equipment. In addition, students are introduced to NASCAR technology, specifically advanced techniques for building and testing NASCAR engines, fabrication and pit crew training. NASCAR Sponsor: Sunoco, Inc. “Sunoco is proud to be a supporter of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program,” said Dawn Zimmerman, regional marketing manager for Sunoco, Inc. “The [NASCAR] Combine specifically allows for a new generation of diverse drivers to gain experience not only in racing, but media training, lessons in building self-confidence and the lifestyle that is racing. And we’re especially excited to be fueling the next generation of drivers who will be carrying on the legacy of NASCAR racing.” Individual Recognition: Lyn St. James Lyn St. James runs the Lyn St. James Academy, which was established in 1994 through the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation. The academy is an educational and training program for talented women race drivers who aspire to the professional levels of motorsports. St. James is one of only five women to have qualified for the Indianapolis 500 and became the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1992. “I want to thank NASCAR for this honor and recognition,” St. James said. ” While I’ve been actively working in the area of diversity for many years, I really feel I’m only representing the many partners who have enabled us to continue doing our Driver Development Academy and other programs.”

D4D Class Unveiled Tuesday Along With ‘Changing Lanes’ Sneak Peek

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 2010 Drive for Diversity class – which will drive in the NASCAR developmental series for Revolution Racing – will be introduced Tuesday at the IMAX Theater at the Daytona 500 Experience. The presentation will include an exclusive sneak peek of the forthcoming television show, Changing Lanes, which focuses on this year’s class and will air on BET Network. The event will also include a media question-and-answer session with Scott Mills, president of BET Networks; Max Siegel, CEO of The 909 Group; and Jay Abraham, chief operating officer of NASCAR Media Group to discuss this ground-breaking partnership. It is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m. Changing Lanes is set to debut summer, 2010 on BET.  NASCAR Media Group, The 909 Group and BET have joined forces to showcase this unique and exciting new competition docu-series which chronicles the search for the next generation of drivers in America’s most-watched form of motorsports. This eight-episode, one-hour series features drivers from Revolution Racing. Limited seating is available for the general public.

NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Members Ready for 2010

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program presented by Sprint will kick-off the 2010 season Daytona International Speedway. Eight current NASCAR Drive for Diversity pit crew athletes, along with at least three program graduates, will go over-the-wall during Speedweeks competition. Seven current NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Member program participants will compete with teams in the ARCA Racing Series event on Feb. 6. The ARCA Racing Series is used as a stepping stone for pit crew athletes looking to compete in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series or NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as they develop their skills. One D4D pit crew athlete, Anwar Parrish, will compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Front Row Motorsports in 2010. Parrish will make his debut with the team during the Daytona 500. “Our Drive for Diversity pit crew athletes have trained hard during the off-season,” said pit crew coach Phil Horton. “It’s important for their development to get them real world, over-the-wall experience. We’re proud to have 11 pit crew athletes representing Drive for Diversity in Daytona.” Three NASCAR Drive for Diversity program graduates – Dion Williams, Kenyatta Houston and Antonio Morrison – have been competing with teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and will continue to compete at national touring series level in 2010. Williams works for Hendrick Motorsports, Houston works for Kevin Harvick Inc. and Furniture Row Racing and Morrison works for Joe Gibbs Racing. The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program presented by Sprint is a comprehensive year-round training program for minority and female pit crew athletes. The program teaches aspiring pit crew members the fundamentals, discipline and confidence required to be a top athlete on pit road. The pit crew training program includes hands-on over-the-wall position training for tire changers, tire carriers, fuelers and jackmen, as well as weight training, agility and footwork programs. Current NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program presented by Sprint pit crew athletes:
  • Rayshaud Barkley, 27, of Chesapeake, Va., will compete as a jackman for Cunningham Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series.
  • Tesfa Lee, 29, of Brooklyn, N.Y., will compete as a tire changer with Coulter Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series.
  • Lionel Legra, 24, of Miami, Fla., will go over-the-wall in the ARCA Racing Series as a tire carrier for Cunningham Motorsports.
  • Marcus McGruder, 27, of Atlanta, is a tire changer and will be competing with Cunningham Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series.
  • Anwar Parrish, 27, of Shelby, N.C., will be competing as a tire carrier with Front Row Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
  • Josh Edwards, 24 of Ocala, Fla., will compete with Cunningham Motorsports as a jackman in the ARCA Racing Series.
  • Kevin Richardson, 23 of Elizabethtown, N.C., is a tire changer and will be competing in the ARCA Racing Series with Cunningham Motorsports.
  • Richie Williams, 26, of Camden, S.C., will compete as a jackman for Coulter Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series.

Women Not Named Danica Coming Up In NASCAR

womenNASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which helps fund female and minority drivers in racing’s lower ranks, has an ample number of promising young women who could one day make their way into the Cup Series. Former Camping World East Series champion Andy Santerre, who oversees D4D cars in the Camping World Series, weighs in with what five members of the current class must do to move up.

Mackena Bell , 19, Carson City, Nev. Finished eighth in final standings this year at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. First female driver to post a top three finish there. 
Santerre says: “Bell has transitioned from late models to super late models in the last year, and more seat time in a Camping World car will help her comfort level.”

Jessic a Brunelli , 16, Hayward, Calif. Background includes Ford Focus,
sprint cars and karts. Ran modifieds at All American Speedway (Roseville, Calif.).
Santerre says: “Brunelli’s raw talent was impressive (at the recent D4D Combine at Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia), and gaining experience in a full-bodied stock car is key.” 

Katie Hagar, 23, Damariscotta, Maine. Raced late models in Northern
California. Set qualifying record at Stockton 99 Speedway.
Santerre says: “Her immediate next step would be to get more time in a Camping World Series car, which is heavier and has more horsepower than the late model.”

Sloan Henderson , 17, Franklin, Ohio. This year’s Ohio NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series rookie of the year.
Santerre says: “Impressive despite her lack of experience, Henderson needs to log more laps in a late model before looking to make the next jump.”

Rebecca Kasten, 19, Mequon, Wis. Ran limited late models and late models in regional touring series.
Santerre says: “Her background is heavy with racing full-fendered cars, which will help her progression. While she has the most experience in the group, she still needs to prove it at the Camping World Series level.”

D4D Kicks-Off ‘Academy-Style’ Training at Annual Combine presented by Sunoco

combine09Thirty drivers from different forms of racing across the United States will showcase their skills in front of NASCAR executives and officials at the annual Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine presented by Sunoco, as they vie for one of 10 spots with Revolution Racing for the 2010 season. The Combine kicks off the new academy-style development for Drive for Diversity, with 10 drivers competing for the program under a single team ownership structure. The scouting event will take place October 16-20 in Charlotte, N.C., and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. “The drivers invited to the Combine will compete for an opportunity to be a part of the inaugural class in the D4D programs new academy-style driver development program,” said Marcus Jadotte, Managing Director of Public Affairs for NASCAR, who oversees the sanctioning body’s diversity initiatives, “As the Drive for Diversity initiative enters its seventh year, the program’s focus on driver testing and training will better position drivers to succeed and advance in our sport.” “The Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine presented by Sunoco is an integral part of the D4D initiative,” said Max Siegel, Chief Executive Officer of The 909 Group. “We are looking forward to this year’s event and are confident the drivers invited to participate in the Combine will raise the bar in terms of talent and competition.” Since the creation of Drive for Diversity in 2004, 31 competitors have driven for the initiative in NASCAR’s developmental series, winning 35 races. The 2009 driver class combined for six wins, 51 top fives and 125 top 10s. Driver Paul Harraka captured two wins and Rookie of the Year in NASCAR’s premiere development series, the NASCAR Camping World Series West. The 30 drivers participating in this year’s Combine, including 12 members of the 2009 Drive for Diversity class, will participate in both on- and off-track evaluation over a four-day period. The on-track session will be conducted in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late models and NASCAR Camping World Series cars at Motor Mile Speedway. Off the track, the drivers will be evaluated during media and sponsor relations activities. The drivers attending the Combine will also be featured in a television series, “Changing Lanes,” developed in collaboration with the NASCAR Media Group and set to air in early 2010 on BET. The eight-part series will showcase the development of young Drive for Diversity competitors trying to make it in the big-time world of NASCAR racing. Ten drivers will be selected to compete for Revolution Racing under the Drive for Diversity umbrella in 2010. Six drivers will compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and four will compete in the NASCAR Camping World Series East. The following drivers will participate in this year’s Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine presented by Sunoco:
  • Jorge Arteaga (Houston, Tex.) is currently 11th in the NASCAR Mexico Series standings with three top fives and four top 10s.
  • Mackena Bell (Carson City, Nev.), a member of the 2009 Drive for Diversity class, finished eighth in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model standings at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, (Calif.), with one top five and 10 top 10s.
  • Jessica Brunelli (Hayward, Calif.) competed in the Modified division at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., scoring 10 top fives and 13 top 10s.
  • Michael Cherry (Valrico, Fla.) scored seven top fives and 19 top 10s in the Late Model division at Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C., as a member of the 2009 Drive for Diversity class.
  • Tiffany Daniels (Smithfield, Va.) joined the Drive for Diversity program in 2009, competing in the NASCAR Camping World Series East for Hamilton Racing.
  • Heather DesRochers (Granby, Mass.) competed in the SK Light Modified division at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. She earned one win, six top fives and seven top 10s in 15 races.
  • Phil Dugan (Meridian, Idaho) competed in the NASCAR Camping World Series West for the Drive for Diversity program in 2009, finishing the season 11th in the points standings.
  • Cassie Gannis (Phoenix, Ariz.) enjoyed three top-10 finishes in the Late Model division at Toyota Speedway this season.
  • Alissa Geving (Penngrove, Calif.) raced in the 360 All Pro Series at Petaluma Speedway, earning two wins and 15 top fives in 15 starts. She also set a track qualifying record.
  • Ryan Gifford (Winchester, Tenn.) competed in the NASCAR Camping World Series East in 2009, as well as running dirt and asphalt late model events across the Southeast.
  • Katie Hagar (Nobleboro, Maine) set a track qualifying record at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway, driving in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series as a member of the 2009 Drive for Diversity class.
  • Paul Harraka (Fair Lawn, N.J.) became the first Drive for Diversity driver to win a race in a NASCAR regional touring division. He finished the season with two wins and seven top fives, and was named the NASCAR Camping World Series West Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
  • Laura Hayes (Wilton, Calif.) joined the 2009 Drive for Diversity class, competing in the Late Model division at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. She scored four top-10 finishes this season.
  • Sloan Henderson (Franklin, Ohio) earned NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Ohio state ookie of the year honors at Kil-Kare Speedway in Xenia, Ohio with six top fives and 18 top 10s.
  • Brandie Jass (Bryan, Tex.) competed at 105 Speedway in Cleveland, Tex., racing in the Lonestar Outlaw Sprinters. She scored eight top fives and 14 top 10s in 18 events.
  • John Jones (Mooresville, N.C.) has been competing in the INEX Bandolero Car Series, as well as testing late models throughout North Carolina.
  • Rebecca Kasten (Mequon, Wis.) has spent the year racing touring series Late Models throughout the United States. She tallied six top-10 finishes this season.
  • Ali Kern (Fremont, Ohio) raced in the Modified division at Sandusky (Ohio) Speedway, finishing third in points with two wins and nine top fives.
  • Brea Lopez (Vader, Wash.) finished third in the Limited Late Model division at South Sound Speedway in Tenino, Wash., with one pole, one win, four top fives and eight top 10s.
  • Jessica Murphy (Groveland, Fla.) competed in the Super Late Model and Limited Late Model divisions at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway this season, earning two wins and nine top fives.
  • Sergio Pena (Catharpin, Va.) kicked off his rookie season in the Late Model division at Shenandoah (Va.) Speedway with five wins, before moving over to Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.
  • Juan Pitta (Galt, Calif.) earned one pole, one win and 12 top fives in the Late Model division at All American Speedway as a member of the 2009 Drive for Diversity class.
  • Megan Reitenour (Miamisburg, Ohio) earned rookie of the year honors for the Late Model division at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, N.C., as a member of the 2009 Drive for Diversity class. She earned one pole, seven top fives and 16 top 10s.• Jason Romero (Cameron Park, Calif.) won the track championship in the Late Model division at All American Speedway after winning 11 races this season.
  • Natalie Sather (Fargo, N.D.) competed with the Drive for Diversity program in 2009, running in the Super Late Model division at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. Sather earned one win and 10 top fives in her rookie season on asphalt, and was the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Washington state rookie of the year.• Dylan Smith (Randolph, Vt.) was the only rookie to compete full-time in the Late Model division at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Waterbury, Vt.
  • Jonathan Smith (Beacon Falls, Conn.) competed in the NASCAR Camping World Series East as a member of the 2009 Drive for Diversity class. He earned two top-10 finishes this season.
  • Emily Sue Steck (Holman, Wis.) raced in the Late Model division at LaCrosse (Wisc.) Fairgrounds Speedway. She won three races and had 10 top fives and 14 top 10s this season.
  • Trista Stevenson (Pocahontas, Ill.) raced in the United States Super Truck Challenge Series, winning three poles and two feature events.
  • Darrell Wallace, Jr. (Mobile, Ala.) competed in 23 late model events, including nine UARA Late Model division events, scoring three wins and 11 top fives.

NASCAR teams up with BET for new ‘Changing Lanes’ show

Max Siegel and Jonathan Smith in New York City
Max Siegel and Jonathan Smith in New York City
Black Entertainment Television, a network keyed to African-Americans, will air a show next season with NASCAR, a sport that has tried for years to improve diversity within its ranks. “Changing Lanes,” a docu-reality series expected to launch in 2010, will spotlight drivers in NASCAR’s “Drive for Diversity” program. “I wanted to see more opportunities created in NASCAR for people of color, especially on the competition side,” said Max Siegel, a former record executive turned stock car insider. Siegel, who had been president of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., took the idea to Jay Abraham, who runs NASCAR Media, the sport’s production arm, and together they shopped it to networks. BET will announce the show today as part of its new programming presentation. “We’re going immediately into creative meetings,” Siegel said. “We’ll come up with a pretty quick production schedule.” BET has bought 10 episodes of the hour-long show. NASCAR has a number of on-and-off-track diversity programs, including the “Drive for Diversity,” which backs female and minority drivers in feeder series for the sport’s top level. Some of those drivers will participate in the reality show, said Siegel. “Every week, there’s a lot of competition, on-track performance, a lot of back story, and getting to know the participants,” Siegel said. “We want the audience to get to know what it takes to participate at this level.” “Changing Lanes” is far from the first reality series to delve into the sport, however. FX aired “NASCAR Drivers 360,” a show that followed drivers on and off the track. ABC tried a celebrity series pairing stars with drivers in a race competition. And TLC aired “NASCAR Wives.” None, however, has focused exclusively on drivers who are women or of color. “We want to tell a true story that is racing authentic,” he said. Few of these sports-related reality shows have become mainstream hits, however. “For people who don’t know racing,” Siegel said, “it has drama built into it. There’s a lot of speed. There’s a lot of complexity in racing. Those are the key touch points to make an entertainment product successful.” Does that mean villains and heroes? Well, not exactly. “I don’t know that you necessarily need any villains,” he said. “What people need are good story lines. Look at [“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”]. We want to do things that, obviously, cast NASCAR in the exciting and fun light that it is. We won’t script it in a way where we’re creating villains and rivalries.” Siegel said NASCAR officials have gone a long way in diversifying the sport, noting that there’s been an impact off the track, but he acknowledged that until there’s a top female driver or one of color, NASCAR will continue to be criticized. “I do think fans will catch on when we do have a star that people can connect with,” Siegel said, hoping to have a hand in that with “Changing Lanes.” “It will have an impact.”

Drive for Diversity Adapts Academy-Style Training

Competitors to Work Together Under One Ownership Umbrella Based In Charlotte

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (September 16, 2009) – The evolution of the Drive for Diversity, NASCAR’s leading on track diversity initiative, will continue in 2010 as competitors relocate to Charlotte and enter “academy-style” development under a single team ownership structure.  The 909 Group, which took over operational responsibilities for Drive for Diversity in 2009, will own and operate 10 teams fielding Drive for Diversity competitors.  Under the Revolution Racing banner, these minority and female drivers will compete on four NASCAR Camping World Series teams and six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams. In addition, Revolution will also create a youth racing initiative that will identify aspiring drivers who may eventually enter Drive for Diversity in late model stock cars. “Drive for Diversity, under the day to day management of The 909 Group, will continue to provide strong opportunities for minority and female competitors,” said Marcus Jadotte, Managing Director of Public Affairs for NASCAR, who oversees the sanctioning body’s diversity initiatives.  “This new structure for developing young drivers and crew members is an evolution of an initiative that has seen 31 drivers compete, winning 33 races.  D4D drivers will be located in the nerve center of NASCAR with greater access to industry resources, technology, training, testing, and shop experience.” Drive for Diversity is one of the most aggressive competition-based diversity programs in all of sports.  In 2009, 12 Drive for Diversity drivers have combined for six wins, 51 top fives and 125 top-10 finishes. The 909 Group, a sports and entertainment agency, will continue to provide marketing support to NASCAR’s diversity initiatives.  John Story will serve as President of Revolution Racing managing day-to-day operations of the company.  Max Siegel will maintain his role as Chief Executive Officer of both Revolution and The 909 Group. “We’ve spent most of 2009 thinking about ways to expand opportunities available to the drivers and crew members involved in Drive for Diversity,” Siegel said.  “All of the teams involved in the initiative since its inception in 2004 have provided meaningful support for the program.  To better assess and develop talent, we are putting the drivers under one roof and in identical cars.  This new standardized structure will also create more meaningful sponsorship opportunities that will in turn provide resources necessary to compete at the highest level with the goal of getting drivers to NASCAR’s premier series.” Andy Santerre, a four-time NASCAR Camping World Series champion as a driver and team owner, will join Revolution Racing to oversee its Camping World Series operations.  Blair Addis, a current Drive for Diversity team owner, will oversee Revolution Racing’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program. Current and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers will serve as coaches and mentors to the drivers, who will be given additional seat time and be allowed to compete in more than one series as they develop. The coaches will share information with the drivers in the shop and during their intense on-track testing program which will begin in early November and continue throughout the 2010 season. In addition to drivers, Revolution, along with corporate partner Sprint, will continue to build on developing over-the-wall athletes led by long-time NASCAR pit crew coach Phil Horton, who has trained a significant number of current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew members. Revolution’s drivers for the 2010 season will be determined following the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco Oct. 16-19.  Those drivers will be featured in a television series, “Changing Lanes,” developed in collaboration with the NASCAR Media Group and set to air in early 2010 on BET. The 10-part series will showcase the development of young Drive for Diversity competitors trying to make it in the big-time world of NASCAR racing.