ES: Diversity news and notes 2007-06-08

NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES DIVERSITY NEWS & NOTES * Howard University Radio's Washington, D.C. WHUR 96.3 Teams With Davis, Gibbs * WHUR GM Watkins: Station's Staff Bonds With "Their" Race Car &...


* Howard University Radio's Washington, D.C. WHUR 96.3 Teams With Davis, Gibbs

* WHUR GM Watkins: Station's Staff Bonds With "Their" Race Car & Driver
* Car sponsorship Builds From 2006 Partnership With Pocono & NASCAR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 8, 2007) -- A leading FM radio station serving one of the nation's largest media markets has joined a NASCAR Busch East Series team in a unique sponsorship.

Washington, D.C.'s WHUR-FM 96.3, one of the few university-owned commercial radio stations in the nation, has joined Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 92 NASCAR Busch East Series team and its 16-year-old driver Marc Davis. The car sponsorship is the first in NASCAR by an urban-oriented radio station.

"We are excited about the opportunity to be part of this latest project with NASCAR and Joe Gibbs Racing to bring the nation's largest spectator sport to an even wider audience of African Americans," said WHUR General Manager Jim Watkins, an avid NASCAR fan.

The WHUR 96.3 Chevrolet debuted at South Boston (Va.) Speedway Saturday, June 2 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Davis, a series rookie, finished a NASCAR Busch East Series career-high fourth in the event. Watkins invited dozens of WHUR staff to attend the race, and introduce them to a sport they've been helping promote.

"Most of our staff had never been to a race before," Watkins said. "Last year we took 40 African-Americans to Pocono Raceway, but they were listeners who won a contest to go to that race. In most cases, it was their first race, too."

Davis and 31 other NASACAR Busch East Series put on a highly competitive event, and Watkins said the WHUR staff had an enjoyable, exciting time.

"There were a number of them who had no idea it was going to be as much fun," Watkins said, "and that it was a lot more than just watching cars go in a circle around the track. They immediately understood why some of us guys just love racing.

"None of us had been to see Marc drive. We had him here at the radio station for interviews and we had him with us last year when we had out first diversity initiative, but we hadn't seen him drive. We knew he was a local guy, and we had heard that his driving was going well. Those who hadn't seen him race were surprised at his talent.

"What most of us realize that people who haven't been to a race don't realize, is that drivers have to be an athlete and it takes talent to do it."

To help more WHUR listeners get an opportunity to go to their first NASCAR race, Watkins said the station will again have a contest in which 40 will win a trip to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Pocono on August 5. Last year's contest involved listeners writing about why they wanted to go to the race.

"I think the thing that's important is that we've reached the point where we're being invited to come," Watkins said, "and when we go to places like Pocono and South Boston, the treatment we get as African Americans is fantastic. A lot of people are surprised. They're saying 'hey, this is really nice. I'm being treated very well here. Why didn't I go before?'

"I think we're at a time when the interest in this sport needs to be expanded so more minorities can enjoy this fun and excitement of racing. Most of the people when they were growing up didn't think that it was something that Blacks and minorities did. Now that we've been invited, we're finding out it's a lot of fun. And it's always great to see people who are doing these things who look like you."

The sponsorship is part of an initiative launched last year between WHUR, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR and Pocono International Raceway to introduce NASCAR racing to a more diverse audience.

Davis' hometown is Mitchelville, Md., just a few miles from WHUR's location in Silver Spring, Md. Earlier this year Davis and his Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet were part of a WHUR promotion at the International Car Show at the Washington Convention Center. WHUR will appear as Davis primary sponsor again in September for the series season finale at Dover International Speedway. At least one more event could be added to the sponsorship schedule.

Davis has been racing for a long time, beginning with bicycles at age six. It didn't take long for him to try NHRA Junior Dragsters and Quarter-Midgets. He was selected from a pool of hundreds of applicants to be a 2006 Drive for Diversity development driver, and joined the Gibbs team to compete in NASACR Whelen All-American Series Late Model division at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway last year. He scored six feature event wins, which led Gibbs to advance the team to the NASCAR Busch East Series in 2007.

The Gibbs team launched its diversity development program with the late NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White in 2003.

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Marc Davis
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing