July 7, 2012
By Donalde z Smith
NASCAR’s Diversity Program Mission statement is: To engage women and people of diverse, ethnic, and racial backgrounds in all facets of the NASCAR industry.
Its objectives are to engage industry stakeholders in efforts to broaden the audience of the sport; increase minority and female on-track participation; introduce career opportunities in the motorsports industry, and outreach to multicultural target markets.
Most NASCAR fans have heard about the Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program (D4D). Founded in 2004, each year NASCAR selects a group of drivers to be featured in this developmental program. In 2012, twelve drivers were chosen.
The NASCAR Driver Diversity program made the media headlines last month when Michael Rodriguez, an up and coming driver, settled his diversity lawsuit with Access Communications and NASCAR. Rodriguez had claimed that the Drive for Diversity program had discriminated against him because he looked "too Caucasian." He further alleged that this prevented him from driving in an actual race during the competition. Rodriguez is of Puerto Rican heritage.
A lesser known program is the NASCAR Diversity Internship Programs (NDIP). Each year, NASCAR welcomes students into the NASCAR industry as participants in the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program. This ten-week summer internship program is full-time and paid.
“NASCAR’s Diversity Internship Program offers real-world work experience to multicultural college students who otherwise might not have this opportunity,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development. “NASCAR is proud of its commitment to diversity and growing the sport through this important program.”
Since its inception thirteen years ago, the program has been geared to expose diverse college students to the many career opportunities within the motorsports industry. Well over one hundred and eighty students have participated in this internship with several going on to full-time employment in the industry.
Photo Courtesy NASCAR
"This internship has given me the inside view of something that I already knew was great from a fan standpoint. Being able to be part of this team has reassured me that I want to pursue a career in the Motorsports business either here or in my home country Puerto Rico. It has also made my ultimate goal to become a race driver attainable." Angel Samalot-Quiles, Hendrick Motorsports Intern, 2006 reported.
The current internship class of seventeen students began their NASCAR experience with an orientation session during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The group visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NASCAR Productions offices, Roush Fenway Racing, the Sam Bass NASCAR Art Gallery, Rev Racing headquarters, attended the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge, and the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
In addition, the group met with a number of key people in the industry including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, crew members and NASCAR executives. The visit was designed to bring the interns together as a class to learn what will be expected of them before they disperse to their various assignments for the summer.
The NDIP provides comprehensive involvement in the industry by offering internships within NASCAR offices and those of teams, tracks and broadcast partners.
In addition to the NASCAR and GRAND-AM corporate offices in Daytona Beach, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., and New York, the 2012 interns are participating in companies across the industry: Rev Racing, Daytona International Speedway, Catalyst Public Relations and Octagon.
The 2012 interns and the department they were assigned to are:
Andrea Bejarano-Integrated Marketing Comm.
As a person of advanced age and more than a couple of gray hairs, it is my belief that NASCAR’s Diversity Program is missing out on a much underrepresented minority. Yup you guessed it; both the Driver’s Diversity program and the NASCAR Diversity Internship Programs are geared towards youth.
Julian Xavier Botella-DIS, Guest Services
Justin R. Casselle-Catalyst, PR
Jusan M. Hamilton-Racing Operations
Robert Harbour-Public Affairs
Carla Harris-Member Services
Stacey Houston-Marketing & Media
Perron D. Jones-Information Technology
Pedro Mojica-R&D Center
Alisha Jo Sanford-Diversity Affairs
Clarence A Scott, IV-Industry Marketing
Vernon Walker-Automotive Group
The Age Discrimination Employment Act makes it illegal to discriminate based on age. I was shocked to learn that this act covers a protected class from age forty to age seventy. Forty is considered old?
Applicants for the Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program must meet the eligibility requirement of being between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five. To be considered for a position in the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program, you must be a current college or university student.
Many of us more weathered NASCAR fans would cherish the opportunity to be able to participate in NASCAR’s wonderful intern opportunities. After all, one of the more favorite NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers, Mark Martin was born in 1959! Hershel McGriff, aged eighty-four, finished eighteenth in a K&N Pro Series West race last month.
How about an internship or driver’s search for older citizens?
Senior Citizens are an untapped work force that will bring experience, humor, leadership, and skills to a variety of NASCAR tasks. I have also read that older workers tend to be an honest and dedicated group. I know that I am!
Increased attention to the NASCAR involved seniors would augment that demographics’ involvement in motorsports. I am just saying . . . . .
You can read more about NASCAR’s Diversity Programs at http://www.nascardiversity.com/.
If you would like to learn more about Donalde z Smith, please check out her web site at NASCAR Race Mom.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.