Irwindale new program announced

Irwindale Speedway Announces Minority Driver & Pit Crew Search Program NASCAR Track Launches Program Aimed at Exposing Local Racing Talent Irwindale, Calif. - - NASCAR's "Drive for Diversity" program is catching on in the Los Angeles area. ...

Irwindale Speedway Announces Minority Driver & Pit Crew Search Program NASCAR Track Launches Program Aimed at Exposing Local Racing Talent

Irwindale, Calif. - - NASCAR's "Drive for Diversity" program is catching on in the Los Angeles area. On Wednesday, February 23, Irwindale Speedway will roll out a new program aimed at putting a minority youth into the driver's seat of a brand-new Legends race car for the 2005 season at the well-known western raceway. The program will also send a youngster to Jeff Hammond's "Pit Crew U" in Mooresville, North Carolina for training as an over-the-wall crew member.

"We are very proud to announce Irwindale Speedway's 2005 Minority Driver and Pit Crew Search Program," said Irwindale's GM Bob DeFazio. "Irwindale has been involved with NASCAR's diversity program for a number of years now, hiring minority youngsters into our racing officials program. Now we're going to give a deserving young driver a chance to get into entry level racing with a Legends Car right here at the Speedway as well as starting another off on the road to being part of a NASCAR pit crew."

Irwindale's new Minority Driver and Crew Search program will introduce young candidates to the world of NASCAR and the exciting career opportunities available throughout the motorsports industry. Like NASCAR's national diversity imitative Irwindale's program is designed to support deserving youngsters with an interest in the motorsports industry, who are of Alaskan Native, American Indian, Asian/Pacific Island, African American, Hispanic, or of other racial minority descent. Those men and all young women between the ages of 14 and 20 will be eligible for this unique driver and crew person search.

Applicants will fill out questionnaires and face an in-depth interview held at the Speedway. Academics will be part of the consideration as will personal desire driving ability, and physical agility. "We want our candidates to be able to express themselves well and possess good people skills. It's something that NASCAR drivers and crew persons must have today and something that we plan on helping our candidates master."

The top candidates who make it past the first written and oral hurtles will find themselves suiting up for an accelerated driving school using Legends Cars supplied by Irwindale's own on-site Performance Race Training Center (PRTC) and Legends & Parts Sales (LAPS). "As the Southern California Legends Car dealer, we could not be more supportive of this program," said Joe Oddo, owner of LAPS. "This is a great opportunity for us to reach out to the minority community as well as a terrific way to get some great new racing and wrenching talent on the road. We're very pleased to be an integral part of this adventure."

A blue-ribbon panel of racing administrators, veteran drivers, local educators, motorsports journalists, and civic leaders has been assembled to evaluate specific stages of this process, which will not only include driving talent and physical ability, but, as previously mentioned, communication skills as well.

"We know that the young men and women that we'll see in this search will very quickly be looked to as role models in their communities," DeFazio explained. "We'll be giving the finalists a short course in community relations and be expecting them to be able to carry the word to other youngsters as the 2005 competition season progresses.

The winning candidate on the pit crew side of the wall will receive a complete course at Jeff Hammond's new and very exciting PIT Instruction and Training Academy in Mooresville, North Carolina. The total-immersion course will cover everything that an over-the-wall racing team member will need to know from mechanical training to the all-important physical and mental conditioning for the tough job.

The winning youngster on the driving side will be given a "full ride" in a brand new Legends Car supplied to Irwindale by 600 Racing, LLC and H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, the CEO/GM of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "Irwindale Speedway has a reputation for creating leading edge programs and this is a great example, we're very pleased to be a part of this project. We believe strongly in what they are aiming for and commend them for their foresight," said Wheeler.

The 2005 12-race Legends Cars season will begin on Saturday, March 19 and conclude on Saturday, September 17. PRTC/LAPS will house and maintain the race vehicle on site at their Speedway shops (with the driver and the newly-minted crew person assisting and learning the ins and out of the mechanical side of racing).

Impact Racing, racing safety legend Bill Simpson's new company, will provide the new racer with a custom Impact driving suit, along with driving shoes, gloves, and helmet. Impact will provide the crew person candidate with work gloves and sport shoes. The driver's safety ensemble will be augmented with a HANS device provided by the manufacturer to complete the safety side of the equation.

"We know that there's a wealth of young driving and crewing talent out there and we want to find it and bring it before the fans. In this case, we also now that some of these minority kids only need a chance to prove themselves behind the wheel and in the pits. That's why we've teamed up with the people who produce Legends Cars, 600 Racing cars to put a young driver in one of the most competitive and cost-effective racing divisions on the race track today," DeFazio concluded.

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Series NASCAR , Stock car