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Drive For Diversity Program

Drive For Diversity Program News
Drive For Diversity Combine Blends On-Track Skill Testing, Off-Track Training.In Search For 2006 Drivers ... with photo
Oct 18, 2005 - updated Oct 18th, 2005 10:07pm
Web posted by Jeremy Davidson

South Boston, Va. --

19 aspiring NASCAR drivers participate in third annual session at South Boston Speedway

South Boston, Va. (Oct. 18, 2005) – After two days of on-track testing, time trials, off-track media training and career management seminars, 19 aspiring NASCAR drivers completed the Drive for Diversity “Testing and Evaluation Combine” at South Boston Speedway. The event determines which drivers will participate in the Drive for Diversity development program for ethnic and gender minority drivers in 2006.

Photo: Brianne Cronrath, 21 of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania, is fitted into her race car by Performance Racing Warehouse crew member Mike Bettis before her tryouts at the Drive for Diversity Combine at South Boston Speedway. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Tuesday’s session included on-track evaluations for nine drivers: Lori Cary of Ballston Lake, N.Y., Michelle Theriault of Mooresville, N.C., Paul Harraka of Fairlawn, N.J., Marc Davis of Mitchellville, Md., Jayme Beck of Hunker, Pa., Tommy Lane of Passaic, N.J., Terri Williams of Capron, Va., Allison Quick of Redding, Pa. and Mike Rodriquez of Drums, Pa.. The drivers are showcasing their skills to a collection of team owners, who will then select eight drivers to compete in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series with support from participating corporate sponsors.

Each driver completed a 45-minute test session in a NASCAR Late Model Stock Car, capped off with a one-lap time trial against the clock. Throughout each test, the drivers were advised and coached by Wendell Scott Jr., the son of pioneering African-American driver Wendell Scott, and Peyton Sellers, the 2005 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion who won his title while racing at South Boston.

Media training sessions were provided by Charlotte, N.C.-based Access Marketing & Communications, which operates the Drive for Diversity program with support from NASCAR. At the conclusion of the second day, the drivers met with Lyn St. James, widely known as one of the first female racing stars and the second woman to race in the Indianapolis 500.

Davis, the youngest driver in the group at age 15, says he was glad to have an opportunity to tryout.

“I think it’s a good program that gives a lot of drivers an opportunity to progress in their careers,” said Davis, a student at Burke High School in Maryland. “I know I didn’t turn the fastest lap but I think I was pretty consistent and showed them what I can do. I was nervous before I got in the car, but once I got in, I was doing what I like to do – I like the speed and I like to drive, so after I got in the car I was feeling pretty good.”

Allison Duncan, of San Rafael, Calif., completed her on-track test session Monday and attended media training on Tuesday. Duncan has participated in the program each of the past two seasons and became the first Drive for Diversity program driver to win a race last season, at California’s Stockton 99 Speedway.

“I think I did pretty well,” said Duncan. “The secret is staying relaxed and just being yourself and being comfortable,” said Duncan, “This is a high pressure deal – to jump in a car you’ve never seen or sat in before, go out on a race track you’ve never been out on before – and they’re watching every single lap you do. It’s a high pressure situation, but all of racing is that way. Pressure is nothing new if you’re a race car driver.”

The pressure comes with the knowledge that the participating team owners include some of the biggest names in motorsports. National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Funny Car driver Frank Pedregon, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., will be the first Hispanic team owner in the Drive for Diversity program. Pedregon, a second-generation drag racer who grew up racing Go Karts and other oval track cars in his youth, was impressed with his first experience in the program.

“This is where I cut my teeth, in circle track racing,” said Pedregon, whose father “Flaming” Frank Pedregon was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 1996. “This is something I’ve always loved and wanted to get back into.

“The NHRA has a diversity program that is impressive, but when I researched it, this program was the best – bar none. I want to bring up Hispanics and African-Americans; that’s my goal. This Drive for Diversity program came at the perfect time and it’s a perfect fit for me and everything I wanted to do. I’m even more impressed now that I’ve come here to choose a driver. I can’t wait to be a part of it. I want to turn a young driver loose and let them shine in the Dodge Weekly Series.

“This is history in the making here. It’s all about bringing minorities up in racing, as equals, and there are opportunities for everybody. There always have been – but NASCAR and the Drive for Diversity program are helping to bring them out. The message that’s most powerful to me is: to have that positive attitude, no matter what color or gender you are, and you can succeed if you keep working hard.”

With the combine completed, the team owners will soon select their drivers and be paired with a sponsor for the 2006 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series season.

For more information, contact:

Jeremy Davidson, NASCAR Public Relations, (386) 566-8540 (mobile) or jdavidson@nascar.com.

Kia Ervin, Drive for Diversity, (717) 576-9355 or kervin@drivefordiversity.com.


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