NASCAR settles diversity program lawsuit

Eric Mauk

Like many racing series have tried in the last few years, NASCAR fielded a Drive for Diversity program designed to give minority candidates a shot at moving into stock-car racing.

In a twist that certainly wasn’t part of the planning meeting, NASCAR found itself having to defend against a candidate that claimed that he was not given a chance to compete in the program for appearing “too Caucasian”

Story Highlights

  • Michael Rodriguez claims he was kept out of diversity program for appearing 'too Caucasian'
  • Rodriguez' grandfather is from Puerto Rico

The suit by Pennsylania karting champion Michael Rodriguez had been brought against NASCAR and Access Communications – the company hired by the sanctioning body to running the program from 2004-08 – in January of 2010 and the trial was to begin Monday in Charlotte.

But after a day of testimony and jury selection, the Rodriguez family said that it had come to an agreement with Access Communications and dropped NASCAR from the suit.

The Rodriguez family believed that Michael qualified for the diversity program due to his Puerto Rican heritage (his grandfather is from Puerto Rico), and Rodriguez’ father said in testimony that registration employees doubted that the young driver was a minority.

Rodriguez did not get to drive a car during the 2005 program, and was invited as an alternate in 2006 but was not called to participate in the full program.

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Tags diversity, lawsuit, nascar