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.”

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