African Americans On Wheels GP reception

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DETROIT, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to establish, build and maintain opportunities for African Americans in racing and motorsports, African Americans On Wheels (AAOW) is hosting its first ever motorsports event that will take place...

DETROIT, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- In an effort to establish, build and maintain opportunities for African Americans in racing and motorsports, African Americans On Wheels (AAOW) is hosting its first ever motorsports event that will take place at the Automotive Hall of Fame, and the venue is the Detroit Grand Prix. The reception is being held on Friday, June 16th and will bring together Detroit's most prominent business and community leaders to inform them of the viable opportunities that are available in the car racing arena, including investment, marketing, and vendor opportunities. It will also provide a networking forum for the challenges and opportunities facing African Americans in motorsports. The title sponsor of the reception is The Prudential Insurance Company of America. "Prudential believes that diversity is the strength of America," stated Marilyn Crawford, vice president of Corporate Public Relations. "Our participation in this event continues to reflect our commitment to inclusivity by reaching out to minority communities." Although African Americans have been long interested in racing, their representation as racers and spectators of the sport exist in very low numbers. In fact, it is reported that African Americans only make up about one percent of major race attendees. However, studies show that African Americans have a very high interest in watching motorsports on television and listening to it on the radio. A recent survey revealed that 15% of African Americans belong to a motorsport association or club, 32% attended a race or motorsports event within the past year, and 54% watched a motorsports event on television. There are several reasons for this inconsistency among the minority community as spectators and many challenges that minority drivers trying to break in the industry have to face. The absence of an attempt to make the African-American community feel welcomed, a lack of exposure, and an inability to gain adequate sponsorship dollars are just a few of the major obstacles that contribute to this cause and effect process. The Championship Auto Racing Team (CART) is one of the leagues in the auto racing industry that has taken the initiative to help diversify the industry. Andrew Craig, president and CEO of CART, will address these issues with reception attendees. "CART is proud to be in a position to more actively reach out to African Americans to let them know of the great opportunities in our sport," said Craig. "The CART African American Driver Development program is the first step in creating more awareness and opportunity for CART racing among the African-American community." The CART African American Driver Development Program was initiated in 1999 and provides a comprehensive test session with one of CART's top Toyota Atlantic teams for three aspiring African American drivers. David Francis Jr., Andrew Kelley and Bill Lester were participants in the program last year. CART works with the Miller Racing Group to identify drivers for the program and those chosen for the 2000 test will be announced later this summer. African Americans On Wheels, the first and only national black automotive publication, also recognizes these issues and therefore is making a groundbreaking move into motorsports and racing. "This reception marks a significant and tremendous opportunity for the African-American community to become better informed and more involved in the racing industry," stated Randi Payton, president and founder of On Wheels Inc. "We are continuing with our focus and goal of informing, educating, and enlightening the Black community of all aspects of the automotive industry." In conjunction with the reception, African Americans On Wheels will also play an active role at the actual Grand Prix race. AAOW will have a cabana and booth exhibit at the Grand Prix encouraging spectator participation from some of the most powerful leaders in the city of Detroit. Along with The Prudential Insurance Company of America, General Motors Corporation and Mazda North American Operations have also joined in as support sponsors for the Grand Prix reception. Together, these four groups will help to enlighten the African-American community about the multi-billion dollar racing industry.

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Series AUTOMOTIVE , GENERAL