Black History Month to be celebrated

NASCAR Celebrates Black History Month February activities complement year-round commitment to diversity DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2006) -- The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced a series of events to celebrate...

NASCAR Celebrates Black History Month
February activities complement year-round commitment to diversity

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2006) -- The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced a series of events to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday and Black History Month. The commemorations will complement NASCAR's year-round diversity initiatives that aim to increase on-track and off-track participation, as well as consumer awareness.

"Black History Month is an important time for all of us at NASCAR to honor the heritage of African-Americans in motorsports," said NASCAR Director of Diversity Tish Sheets. "Through our on-track, off-track and consumer marketing diversity initiatives, we hope to continue increasing participation in NASCAR throughout all communities."

In recognition of Black History Month, NASCAR produced special television, print, radio and online advertisements. The television spot pays tribute to the past, present and future of African-American contributions to NASCAR. The 30-second piece features children from the Urban Youth Racing School (UYRS) honoring NASCAR pioneers such as Wendell Scott, Randy Bethea and Sam Belnavis. The UYRS is a non-profit organization in Philadelphia that provides inner-city youths with the opportunity to learn about motorsports. The spot will air throughout the month of February, including during the Daytona 500.

"We are very excited about this national ad campaign. These spots will reach all Americans and pay homage to those who helped pave the way for African-Americans in our sport," Sheets said.

The events kicked off in January with a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. NASCAR was a 'Keeper of the Dream' sponsor in the Charlotte Mecklenburg MLK Jr. Holiday Celebration. The weekend celebration included a holiday parade, memorial ceremony and symphony concert.

"It is important that the dream of Dr. King is not forgotten. His work in opening doors for African-Americans across the country benefited NASCAR legends such as Wendell Scott, the first African-American to win a NASCAR race. The leadership of Dr. King has provided a strong foundation for the entire NASCAR industry to build on. We are saddened to learn of the passing of Mrs. Coretta Scott King. Mrs. King, a leader in her own right, will truly be missed," Sheets said.

Sheets introduced the 2006 Drive for Diversity driver class as part of a look at the 'NASCAR of Tomorrow' at the annual Charlotte Media Tour. Drive for Diversity, run by Access Marketing & Communications, is an ethnic and gender minority driver and crew member development program. The program is NASCAR's leading on-track diversity initiative and aims to develop a steady pipeline of talented and well-trained minorities and women for the motorsports industry. Eight drivers earned positions in the program and will race in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series.

At the end of the month, NASCAR will participate in the Giant Steps Awards Banquet and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for the National Consortium for Academics and Sports. The event will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the group, which is dedicated to creating a better society by focusing on educational attainment and using the power and appeal of sport to positively affect social change. NASCAR will be a presenting sponsor at the ceremony.

In addition to these special activities, NASCAR has several initiatives dedicated to further diversifying the sport, both on and off the track. NASCAR offers diversity internships, college tours and scholarships to increase awareness of the professional opportunities available in the sport. These programs have led to several full-time job placements for students coming out of college. NASCAR is currently working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to develop a job placement program in the automotive industry. The program will tie in with the NASCAR Technical Institute, an existing partnership between NASCAR and the Universal Technical Institute. The focus will be on increasing job opportunities for African American students in racing and other related automotive business fields.


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Drivers Wendell Scott