Driver Sues NASCAR, Claims He Was Excluded from Diversity Program for Being ‘Too Caucasian’

Bob Pockrass, AOL Sporting News, April 20, 2012

An aspiring stock-car driver is suing NASCAR, claiming he was denied the opportunity to compete in NASCAR’s diversity program because he looks “too Caucasian.”

NASCAR argues that in trying to change the “face” of the sport, it has the right to select drivers for its diversity program based on skin color, attorneys for the sanctioning body and its former diversity program administrators have told a U.S. District court.

Michael Rodriguez, a driver from Pennsylvania, says in his complaint filed in U.S. District Court that he was denied the opportunity to compete in the 2005 and 2006 Drive For Diversity combines.

Rodriguez is suing NASCAR and Access Communications, which operated NASCAR’s diversity program from its inception in 2004 until 2008 and conducted the combines that are designed for teams in NASCAR’s regional series to scout minority drivers.

NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program was created to develop minority drivers and crewmen and help them advance through the NASCAR ranks with the goal of reaching the sport’s top series. {snip}

Rodriguez, now in his early 20s, is asking for undetermined damages for violation of his civil rights.

{snip}

Judge Max Cogburn did not issue a ruling immediately after Wednesday’s hearing and indicated that he was uncomfortable with the case.

“The core question for the court,” the judge told the attorneys, “is can you discriminate on color in an effort to diversify?”

Rodriguez was invited to compete in the 2005 combine at age 15 with a resume that included two state karting championships. He also was the youngest driver ever to win a Super Late Model event at Mountain Speedway, a one-third mile asphalt track in St. John’s, Pa.

He states in his complaint that he believes he was discriminated against because of his complexion. According to his claim, he is of Puerto Rican and Spanish descent and identifies himself as Puerto Rican. He states in his claim that he is blue-eyed and fair-skinned.

According to NASCAR’s brief in support of summary judgment, Rodriguez based his claim on two references by an Access employee that he looks like “the poster child” or “the poster boy” for the Ku Klux Klan.

{snip}

The second Klan reference allegedly was made during a discussion of potential diversity drivers for the 2006 combine, according to NASCAR’s summary judgment brief. The “poster child” comment allegedly was made by an Access employee in the presence of three people, or made in a joking manner by an Access employee after the selection committee voted on which drivers to accept into the program. Rodriguez was selected as an alternate.

Another Access official said those statements were not accepted, tolerated or welcome after hearing the comment, NASCAR states in its brief.

NASCAR puts most of the onus on Access as far as the legal liability for choosing diversity drivers, but NASCAR also backed Access attorneys, who stated in their summary judgment brief that “the act of excluding (Rodriguez) from an affirmative action program because he appeared to be Caucasian is consistent with NASCAR’s stated goals of recruiting drivers who would change the face of NASCAR and make it look more like America.”

{snip}

Access attorney Dhamian Blue followed later, reiterating what Access argued in its summary judgment brief, saying that the color of a driver’s skin can be proper criteria for an affirmative action plan.

{snip}

NASCAR argues in its summary judgment brief, and Pasek reiterated at the hearing, that the selection of drivers for the 2006 combine was done by closed ballot and that there is no proof that Rodriguez was rejected by a majority of the members because of his skin color.

{snip}

NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said that the NASCAR attorneys were making a legal argument that skin color could be used as a criteria for selecting diversity drivers, but said that is not NASCAR’s policy and that skin color did not play a role in the Rodriguez decision.

“Absolutely skin color has nothing to do with our decision process,” Higdon said. “He, like many others, did not make the cut based on merit and merit only.”

Michael Rodriguez at age 15.

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  • I was never a NASCAR fan, but I know now that I will NEVER be one.  “Diversity Program”…..give me a break.  I used to admire NASCAR for only having White drivers.  Any respect I had for them  just went down the toilet.

  • This “Drive for Diversity” program has existed since at least 2004, which means eight years.  Where are the results?

    The answer is that there aren’t results, because there aren’t supposed to be results.  It’s just a slush fund to stuff rolls of money into the mouths of various civil rights knaves.  The equivalent to the “Diversity/Equality/HR” bureaucracies of many major corporations — That’s where they send the AA black hires.

  • haroldcrews

    I do enjoy it when the PC are hoisted on their own petards.  Instead of having drivers and crew members who resemble ‘America’ how about having drivers and crews that look like NASCAR fans; the demographic that produces the best NASCAR drivers or the demographic that produces the best NASCAR crews?

  • I think the reason for this is that NASCAR’s popularity has gone down and they need to find a new audience, minorities. This is why they have this diversity program. To, me this guy looks Hispanic. He is about the same color as Puerto Rican singer Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez’s ex husband. 

    •  And it’s circular logic.  One of the reasons Nascar’s popularity is on the wane is because of this pandering.  Of course it’s not the only reason:   The newer drivers have too much of a “plastic banana” feel to be relevant to the typical Nascar fan, and also that Nascar isn’t dancing with the girl that let him take her to the dance:  In its lust to expand, it kicked so many Southern races off its calendar to make room for events outside the South that I’m sure it alienated its traditional fan base.  No Rockingham, N.C., but TWO in Kansas City? 

    • IstvanIN

      This kid looks about as white as anyone who isn’t Norwegian can look, self-proclaimed PR or not.  If you want to pick a PR he looks like pick Frankie Muniz.

    • Shawn_thefemale

       Actually, you have the cart before the horse. The loss of popularity has happened since their diversification nonsense, not the other way around. Nascar was created by and supported by primarily middle to low-income white nationalists, and we don’t appreciate the government – nor anyone else- fixing something that ain’t broke.

      We tell Nascar what we like and don’t like by the amount of tickets we buy. Right now, most of the races are  nowhere near sell-outs. Bristol was barely half full; to the point of the track owner soliciting fans’ opinions about what they could do to increase attendance. The number one response was, “Quit trying to recruit people who aren’t interested in the sport just for the sake of ‘diversity’. If a driver was good enough, it wouldn’t matter if he was a Vulcan with pointy ears – he would get himself noticed. Tiger “Throw the Club” Woods is a perfect example. Grudgingly, he was so good (for a while) that he worked his way into golf despite the efforts to keep him out. But his true nature finally overcame his golfing ability, and the illusion so many liberals had about him. But recruiting anyone based solely on their race or sex just to add ‘flavor’  tends to offend the ticket-buying public.

    • Rocky Bass

       A diverse “kiss of death” as it were. I was never a big NASCAR guy,  I now will NEVER become a NASCAR guy of any stripe.

  • Hunter Morrow

    Everything needs to be diverse, right? Even NASCAR needs “diversity.”

    You can’t watch anything nowadays without getting a steady diet of black, brown and yellow rammed down your gullet.

    The KKK poster child claim is irrelevant to me.  I don’t care if he’d look like a million bucks on old NSDAP propaganda posters. Whatever happened to merit? To hell with this self-proclaimed Puerto Rican and his whine that the table wasn’t tilted to an amount that would satisfy him.

    Get in on merit or beat it.

    • The__Bobster

      http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/sports/2012/02/28/daytona-500-juan-pablo-montoya-crashes-sets-truck-ablaze/

      NASCAR’s Super-Bowl of races, the Daytona 500, will go down as one of the most bizarre in history as rain, fire set from a freak Juan Pablo Montoya wreck, and Tide laundry detergent made headlines Monday night.

      Montoya crashed while under caution into a safety truck filled with about 200 gallons of jet fuel, and the collision caused a massive fireball that scorched the track and will be the most indelible image of the 54th running of the “Great American Race.

      •  And he’s an import from open wheel, not a product of Nascar’s pandering slush fund.  Which further shows you how “successful” it is.

      • Rocky Bass

         Who was the rocket scientist who placed a truckload of jet fuel on the side of an active race track?

  • razorrare

    No surprize here…First Nascar Banned General Lee Car over concerns of Confederate Flag…now it only follows they would seek “diversity” in its drivers ranks even though it will put other drivers lives at risk.

    http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/nascar-bans-general-lee-over-confederate-flag-concerns.html

  • Tarczan

    Wait until D’Juantavius and D’Brickashaw(real name!) cause a pileup at 190 mph.

  • sbuffalonative

    “Absolutely skin color has nothing to do with our decision process,” Higdon said. “He, like many others, did not make the cut based on merit and merit only.”

    Every time one of these ‘diversity in NASCAR’ articles appears, I make the same comment; NASCAR is a rubber-meets-the-road sport. Either you have the skills to race with the ‘big boy’ (I hope that sexist term doesn’t offend any female readers) or you don’t.

    NASCAR can set up any diversity program they want but if blacks or women or Asians don’t have the driving skills to compete, there is nothing I can think of that NASCAR can do to create a ‘level playing field’ on the racetrack so that all skill levels can compete equally. 

  • To hell with NASCAR and their color over ability diversity scam. What a bunch of morons.

  • Are they asking for more accidents. The reason most fighter piolets are white is whites have the best spatial awareness.

  • It’s always just so easy to whip out the favored whipping boy even when the only thing happening Today is completely opposite and worse.

  • I Greatly Appreciate this.  The Ku Klux Klan is not the problem.  Integration is.

  • Confederate Generals. I sure hope you’re not tryin’ to be smart.