Amidst the excitement leading into the Memorial Day race weekend in Charlotte, NASCAR recognized the industry’s pioneers of diversity at the 12th annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards hosted for the first time at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Industry leaders and personnel gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, for an awards ceremony to honor NASCAR drivers, pit crew members and industry partners and ambassadors for their work promoting diversity and inclusion across the sport.
"There is shared commitment across the NASCAR industry to champion diversity and inclusion, and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Awards celebrate the individuals and organizations whose contributions are making a difference," said Steve Phelps, NASCAR president. "We’re pleased to recognize this year’s award recipients whose efforts and accomplishments are helping drive our sport forward."
The awards highlight exceptional accomplishments by diversity champions from across the industry, including participants of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver and Pit Crew Development Programs and the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.
Notable past award winners include Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers and NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program graduates Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace, and NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver Hailie Deegan.
2019 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Award recipients:
Institution Award: The NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Children’s Fund – The NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Fun Day Festival began in 2017 as a small effort and grew to a multi-city program reaching hundreds of children. The event takes place in six race markets (Phoenix, Dover, Chicago, Daytona, Michigan and Martinsville) with more than 100 children participating in each. The Fund provides more than $100,000 in grant funding to local community organizations focused on the overall health and well-being of children, and directly impacts children in the community with NASCAR-themed programming.
Diverse Driver Award: Ruben Garcia Jr. – K&N Pro Series East driver Ruben Garcia Jr. is a native of Mexico City and is in his fourth season with Rev Racing as a member of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program. A NASCAR Next alum, Garcia is the reigning two-time NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series champion and the youngest driver to win the series title.
Track Award: Richmond Raceway - Richmond Raceway’s relationship with Virginia State University, a nearby Historically Black University, grew rapidly in 2018. Richmond strategically aligned its marketing efforts to reach the local colleges and universities within its market through on-campus promotions and a pre-race concert with local artists. While the students received real-world work experience at the track, Richmond has found a valuable local community partner.
National Series Driver Award: Martin Truex Jr. – The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion established the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation in 2007 with long-time partner, Sherry Pollex, with a mission to support those who have been affected by cancer, specifically ovarian and pediatric cancer. The foundation began its partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2015.
Partner Award: Dow – Dow’s commitment to diversity is highlighted through its program support and engagement with Richard Childress Racing. Dow’s sponsorship of Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team has provided a platform to highlight teamwork and diversity at trade shows and industry events across the country.
Crew Member Award: Derrell Edwards - Baltimore native Derrell Edwards is the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program affiliate to win the Daytona 500 as an over-the-wall crew member. Following a successful career as a basketball player at High Point University, Edwards became a jackman at Richard Childress Racing. Since joining the team, Edwards has embraced the sport and has served as a positive ambassador. He volunteers to attend partner and philanthropic events within the local community and uses his experiences to shine a light on NASCAR and the opportunities the sport has afforded him.
Young Racer Award: Lacy Kuehl - Sarasota, Florida, native Lacy Kuehl is a 13-year-old member of the 2019 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Youth Driver Development Program. In 2018, she raced in a dirt oval flat kart at tracks such as Florida Dirt Motor Speedway, Crossroads Motorplex, Ambassador Racing School and Space Coast Full Throttle Speedway. She and her family started the charity Drive for Diabetes Awareness, dedicated to Type 1 Diabetic Ketoacidosis education, after losing her younger brother, Rocco, to the disease at the age of 1.
Outstanding Intern Award: Maxwell Miranda and Isaiah Wright – Maxwell Miranda and Isaiah Wright made an impact as standout participants in the 2018 NASCAR Diversity Internship Program. Miranda interned in NASCAR’s licensing and consumer products department where he excelled with key contributions around NASCAR’s gaming efforts and trackside reporting, as well as researching new business opportunities. Miranda received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Sports Marketing and Analytics from Mercer University in May and was recently hired to work full-time in NASCAR’s Analytics & Insights department. Wright interned at Richmond Raceway in the consumer marketing department. His commitment to diversity was displayed in his recruitment of Virginia State University classmates, fraternity brothers and professors to support the nearby track. His relationships led to more than 20 students working at Richmond Raceway throughout the season. Wright is a current graduate student at Old Dominion University.
Team Award: Stewart-Haas Racing – Stewart-Haas Racing has continued to grow its reach into Hispanic markets with the addition of Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang. In the four months since Suarez joined the team, Stewart-Haas Racing has supported the Daniel’s Amigos campaign at Auto Club Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Returning Stewart-Haas driver Aric Almirola has continued his community involvement with partner Smithfield through its Helping Hungry Homes initiative targeting race markets such as Dallas/Ft. Worth, Charlotte and Las Vegas.
Industry Ambassador Award: Jose Cervantes, Watkins Glen International - Jose Cervantes has been instrumental in creating various relationships within the Latino community at Watkins Glen International. Since joining Watkins Glen, Cervantes has coordinated appearances with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Daniel Suarez in each of the track’s key markets – Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse. He established a new partnership between the City of Buffalo, the Puerto Rican and Hispanic Day Parade of WNY Association and Watkins Glen International in 2017. As part of the partnership, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown proclaimed Wednesday, July 12 "Daniel Suarez Day" in Buffalo.