NASCAR Diversity Perception, Reality Meet

David D. Dawson, Charlotte Post, June 16, 2010

Motorsport’s racial discrimination in the stands and on the track is well documented. However, with Max Siegel at the helm of Drive for Diversity, NASCAR’s competition diversity program, that perception may be changing.

Siegel is the former president of global operations at Dale Earnhardt Inc., where he made history as the highest-ranking African-American executive in NASCAR.

Siegel, an accomplished African-American lawyer and sports and entertainment mogul, touts that NASCAR is an open and welcoming sport. {snip}

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Siegel and his partners exemplify that passion by using new and conventional marketing tactics to introduce and educate the African-American community about the sport.

“We have a big youth initiative. We will bring over 100 kids in for a week to our facility in Charlotte. We have a technology center and they’ll be there for a week of summer camp. We’ll introduce them to simulated racing, the franchise and the profession,” said Siegel.

Revolution Racing, a race team that Siegel owns and operates with former vice-president of DEI, John Story, was created to develop female and minority drivers and crew in an academy style. Revolution Racing’s drivers and crew members participate in NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity.

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“I noticed, with young drivers that did not have media exposure, especially drivers of color, they needed an opportunity to tell their stories in a compelling way. Get them a media platform where they’re exposed to the public and give a reason for a sponsor to invest in them. So I wanted to give an ‘American Idol’ meets ‘The Apprentice’ where I went out and try to find the next female or driver of color,” explained Siegel.

After he pitched the show to executives, BET picked the show up and partnered with a NASCAR media group as well as Ken Mok, who created the reality show, “America’s Next Top Model.”

He wants viewers to learn what it takes to be involved in the sport, show the sacrifices and character of the young drivers who made an enormous investment in the sport and to celebrate the accomplishments of people of color, who are currently in the sport.

The Indianapolis native has partnered with other prominent African-Americans to push for diversity in motorsports. Actor and rap artist Ludacris is one of Siegel’s partners and is doing voiceovers on the show. Media personalities Tom Joyner and Tavis Smiley are also supporters of his endeavors.

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