NASCAR Diversity Programs

Diversity is one of the biggest issues facing NASCAR today. The sport is seen as a predominately white American sport, but I believe it is starting to change for the better. There are many different diversity programs in many areas that people rarely hear about. Some teams like Joe Gibbs Racing even have their own diversity programs. NASCAR itself has a diversity internship program that provides twelve internships for minorities and women in everything from business to engineering to technical positions. NASCAR’s primary diversity program is the Drive for Diversity. Drive for Diversity is the industry’s leading development program for minority and female drivers and crew members. The Drive for Diversity program currently supports drivers in two of NASCAR’s developmental series. Drive for Diversity also supports crew member candidates through a year-long pit crew training program. NASCAR more recently aired a show on BET, Changing Lanes. I tuned in and watched a couple episodes and was entirely impressed. It really tells a great story about these young drivers and what they really have to go through to compete at the highest levels of stock-car racing. Through the efforts of the sanctioning body and select teams, diversity is a word that is finally getting the attention it deserves in NASCAR. RI

Danica to the Rescue?

If Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick were walking down the street, who would be more recognized? Personally, I have the slightest idea what Jimmie Johnson looks like but I know I could easily point out Danica Patrick in a sea of people. Although her racing accolades pale in comparison to Jimmie Johnson’s, her face is known by millions of non-NASCAR fans worldwide primarily due to her appearances in several television commercials and print advertisements. Why is Patrick so popular? Is it because she is a woman? Is it because she is an attractive woman? Or is it because she has the potential to be one of the most successful drivers in the NASCAR Universe? No matter what the true answer is, executives in the business world have recognized her ability to sell tickets and increase TV viewership and are trying to cash in.

Recently, Danica announced that she will be participating in the 2011 Nationwide series; however, she is only contracted for half of the races. Is this a sign that her team, JR Motorsports, is merely testing the waters or just teasing their male fans? It is unclear how helpful Danica Patrick will be to the sport of NASCAR. Some experts say that she is purely a showboat designed to bring in money and others claim that she is the real deal who is ready to win races and break records. It will be interesting to see how the world reacts to the addition of Danica to the Nationwide races. We can assume she will make money for the sport in the short run; however, NASCAR should be looking ahead to the future and hoping that Patrick will be the gal who wins races and breaks records. While her physical appearance will initially bring in viewers, once her luster wears off only her talent will be able to save her in the end. TD

DIVERSITY AND NASCAR

When I originally thought of NASCAR, I saw it as a white sport, but I also thought they wanted to keep it that way as well. Recently I signed up for a NASCAR business course VCU offers in its program. In that class we discussed that NASCAR has actually developed a diversity program that involves not only trying to attract more fans, but attract more minority drivers as well. In fact, we met two of the drivers currently involved with the show “Changing Lanes”, which is a reality series shown on BET. If this is not a major step in the direction of diversifying the sport, then I don’t know what is.
We also discussed how Juan Pablo Montoya alone has led to NASCAR being aired and translated in over twenty different countries. He alone has attracted not only a large Hispanic following, but other minorities look to him as well. I believe they do this because they see him as someone other than the typical white or “Southern” guy. This is a positive thing for the sport, both for the business side as well as the ethics side. More fans means more sales. WJ

MORE AFRICAN AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT IN NASCAR

NASCAR has struggled to create diversity and encourage young minorities to show interest in the sport for awhile now. NASCAR is over 50 years old, and in that time only three African-Americans have made it to NASCAR’s top series. Many believe that the only type of people interested in NASCAR racing are male Caucasians, but that is far from the truth. NASCAR is the number two sport on television in the United States, and has a massive loyal fan base of 75 million people!
NASCAR wants to encourage more minority involvement in racing, because this increased involvement would help them to reach a huge portion of the population that has not yet embraced the sport. So far they haven’t made too much progress, and that’s because they aren’t focusing on attracting the attention of the children. They need to realize that youth programs open the door for diversity because then the children can become interested in the sport at a young age.
Recently there has been a decline in attendance at the NASCAR races, and there has also been a decrease in TV viewership. A great way to increase these numbers would be to try to diversify the sport not only to African Americans, but to other countries as well. Bringing more minorities into NASCAR makes the whole sport better overall. Better competition, better business opportunities, better employment opportunities, and more fans. Hopefully within the next few years NASCAR can begin to actually show progress in trying to diversify the sport, and provide more interest programs for the youth. DS

Great new opportunity for NASCAR and United States

Today I wanted to talk about a great opportunity that NASCAR and the United States are facing today. Recently, NASCAR got another chance to expand internationally. Saudi Arabian Prince Faisal bin Abdulla al-Saud (member of the royal family) approached Mr. George Gillett (majority owner of Richard Petty Motorsports) with a proposition to form a stock car league in Saudi Arabia. The partnership is still in the talking stage; however, Gillett feels that expansion in the Middle East will definitely take place. Gillett said that he was surprised to learn how enthusiastic the Saudis are about NASCAR and racing in general. “They have a tremendous interest in speed and love automobiles. I don’t think any of us had any idea about the respect they have for this kind of racing.” (ESPN)
By expanding into the world of Middle East, there would be many benefits for NASCAR and the United States. One of the benefits would be expanding the fan base of NASCAR and promoting the sport. Addition of new sponsors to the game would benefit the sport, teams, tracks, cities, government and so on. Additionally, all of the current sponsors would benefit by getting international exposure and recognition. Companies that manufacture cars and parts for them would also benefit, because the need for these would definitely increase. People of the United States would also benefit by the addition of new jobs required to feed the racing industry. Government would benefit by collecting a nice chunk of taxes from all goods produced, sold and exported (tariffs). Additionally such a partnership would be a great step in improving the image of the Unites States and relationships with the Arab world. By engaging in such an American sport, the Saudis definitely take a step ahead toward opening its doors to the rest of the world. Lastly, I believe the sport would benefit a lot by creating additional challenges for American drivers. They have gotten used to doing it here and competing against the same drivers. However, when you go to a new track, race against unfamiliar drivers and get to battle new climate conditions, that would definitely spice up the sport.
And that’s the view from here.
SK

Where is the Diversity?

The NASCAR diversity disparity would make anyone wonder why there isn’t a larger percentage of drivers that aren’t Caucasian or male.
Could it be that James Brown’s song “This Is a Man’s World” is the breathing image of NASCAR?” According to About.com, “In 2009 there are no women competing in the Sprint Cup or Nationwide series. The Craftsman Truck Series has had a few female competitors in 2009 including Gabi Dicarlo, Michelle Theriault, Caitlin Shaw and Jennifer Jo Cobb. However none of these women have full-time ride in the series.”
I believe that if there were more women drivers more women fans would be attracted. I know women will come out in droves for “girl power”. However, my only question is, if there were more women drivers, could a man handle them winning? In the case of more ethnic drivers, I believe that an increase in ethnic drivers will also increase a more ethnic fan base. At some point these disparities will need to be addressed because I believe that if people are going to enjoy a sport they would like to see themselves reflected in some sort of way.
And that’s the view from here.
RW

DIVERSITY IN NASCAR–or the lack of it!

Diversity has been on e of the biggest issues in NASCAR over the years. As in the past with people trying to be equal depending on race or gender, in NASCAR too there is a big gap of diversityl. Other sports such as basketball, football, and baseball have been making lots of changes to make the environment more diverse and the results of these efforts are outstanding because they have brought more fans to the sports.

NASCAR is usually seen as a predominately white American sport, while most other sports are trying to become more diverse. Juan Pablo Montoya, a Colombian, who is currently a NASCAR driver, has made a difference in NASCAR. He has performed well in many races and he has done a great job overall. Due to his performance in NASCAR, Juan has attracted many Spanish fans to follow and watch NASCAR. The Indy Racing League has Danica Patrick, who has broken the male dominance of the sport and has given women the opportunity to see anything is possible.

So my concern is why is NASCAR is not so diverse? Why there are no African Americans or women involved as drivers in NASCAR at the upper levels? Why can’t there be a Tiger Woods in NASCAR? Why can’t there be more women like Danica Patrick in NASCAR? All of these are concerns that are very important because I think that by bringing women and other races to the sport a more diverse environment can exist. The biggest result of this diversity would be a more diverse fan base in NASCAR.

And that’s the view from here.

EK

C’est la vie…NASCAR to Go Abroad?

With the changing times, consider the following: declined fan attendance at NASCAR race tracks, the recent downturn in today’s economy, and downsizing of corporate firms like Circuit City and DHL (current or former NASCAR sponsors), and General Motors begging for bailout, which incidentally forced an end to its relationships at Bristol and New Hampshire tracks. NASCAR should take a closer look into exposure in foreign markets and, even yes, going public. NASCAR is money mad and a money guzzler and why not gain more fans, exposure, and increased revenues in other tracks outside U.S. borders. The Nationwide Series has made appearances in cities like Mexico City (over 100,000 fan attendance) and Montreal in the past; NASCAR should take part in the opportunity to grow further.

Although there has been criticism to considering going outside the U.S. boundaries because it might be difficult for American sponsors due to trade barriers, there is the opportunity to also pick up new sponsors and increased airtime abroad. Existing sponsors like FedEx, UPS, and Coca Cola also increase their benefits by gaining additional international exposure; these companies already have benefited by providing services thus for both NASCAR and its global sponsors.

At the same time, NASCAR can easily promote its “drive for diversity” program, because of exposure to foreign spectators and publicity. Thus, it comes down to the question of whether NASCAR should go abroad. With the opportunities for international expansion, NASCAR’s image of once a Southern red neck sport on dirt will fade into a global empire in international racing on different tracks and maybe surpassing F1 in popularity. Aside from its grassroots of fans and history, arguably there should be no limits to the future direction of NASCAR.

We have the World Cup of soccer and the Summer and Winter Olympics, why not have an international NASCAR?

And that’s the view from here.
JLY

Minorities in NASCAR: Whose Responsibility?

I am no expert on NASCAR that is for sure. But, I have learned a lot about the organization throughout this semester. Recently in our business of NASCAR class we had a discussion about whether it is NASCAR’s responsibility to make the sport more diverse. So far we’ve seen just one non-white American male in the sport since its start. But does NASCAR need to establish rules or requirements for teams in order to get minorities and women into the sport?

My opinion may be a little old school, and a little surprising being that I am female, but I think no. If you start trying to make too many rules or establish quotas, you’re taking the realness away. People who shouldn’t be racing and people that are only interested in getting a paycheck will be out there on the track taking the place of someone who should be there. It won’t matter who is best, whether they’re a better racer, or if they’re more dedicated to the sport. This is not to say that there aren’t a few drivers out there that don’t belong there already, but that’s another thing.

I have always been a strong believer in the idea that people will become what they want to be. Everyone makes choices and decisions, works hard at a young age or doesn’t, gets involved with certain activities or subjects in school and as a result excels or doesn’t, becomes dedicated or lets their interest wane. I think people and industries should be left alone with little toying to direct what they become. That approach is the only way you can surely know that it’s pure.

Especially with the results of this year’s election, we can see now more than ever that things are changing. And it’s not because the government imposed a new amendment to the Constitution saying that one out of every 44 presidents must be a minority. Our country elected a non-white American president all on its own. The United States, a country that half of a century ago was in the midst of a civil rights movement where women and minorities were fighting for their rights, is changing. Who’s to say that NASCAR, a sport tagged as the redneck’s entertainment of choice, won’t one day be just for the South.

If NASCAR wants to get more involvement from minority groups and women, then I think the thing to do would be start children’s programs that make racing available to young kids of all backgrounds. Many minority groups may not think about a sport like racing as something to get their child involved in. Not to mention the price. If NASCAR decides it wants to become an equal opportunity racing league, then all it needs to do is make racing available by sponsoring children’s events and developing carting leagues.
And that’s the view from here.
SK

Song of the South No More

There has been discussion about what the future holds for NASCAR. Will it expand into more markets in the United States? Will it go into Mexico or Canada or perhaps overseas? First and foremost, NASCAR is a business and there is no question that it wants to increase its market size. I don’t think, however, that NASCAR can expand while hanging onto the Southern image.

When people who aren’t fans hear about NASCAR, an image of drunken, redneck, good ol’ boys pops into their heads. People don’t want to associate themselves with that type of lifestyle, especially the wealthier ones, if that is the image conveyed to them. If people don’t want to associate themselves, there is no fan base in that area and thus no expansion into that market.

What NASCAR needs to do is figure out a way to portray the American values, which are found in the South, to these potential new fan bases. These values include hard work, dedication, and passion, to name a few. In reality, however, many people worldwide possess these core values. They are able to relate to the sport thus increasing NASCAR’s fan base. These values are just as easily virtues that everyone wants to strive for.

The key for NASCAR is to separate the American/Southern values from the Southern image. That is the only way for new domestic and international markets to embrace this sport. People may not be able to relate to corporate sponsorships or the business of the sport but NASCAR can hook them with an image of being a dedicated hard worker just as cigarette ads got teenagers hooked by sending a message it was cool.

Internationally, NASCAR needs to make the sport seem so universal that it is easy for people to accept it. Not many Europeans would want to associate themselves with a sport whose American fans’ lifestyle they dislike. Everyone can relate to the values, not everyone can or wants to relate to the image.

In closing, the southern image cannot survive in NASCAR if NASCAR wants to expand. NASCAR can’t expand if it wants to keep the Southern image. Emphasize the American/Southern values if NASCAR wants to grow and eradicate the image. NASCAR management needs to decide which way it wants to go because it can’t do both.
And that’s the view from here.
MA