Drive for Diversity - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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Drive for Diversity

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Posted: Friday, December 7, 2018 8:22 am

When you think of diverse populations in the United States, South Florida is one of the first areas that comes to mind. The region has long been a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. This is evident in many aspects of South Florida, including Homestead-Miami Speedway, where we attract fans from all 50 states and more than a dozen countries for Ford Championship Weekend each year.

Like our Speedway, NASCAR also aims to engage people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds in all facets of the sport. Whether it’s increasing on-track participation with drivers and pit crew or providing front office career opportunities with teams and tracks, NASCAR is always looking for ways to get minorities and females involved in the motorsports industry.

One of the most prominent ways NASCAR achieves this goal is through their Drive for Diversity (D4D) program. Since its inception in 2004, the Drive for Diversity programs has become one of the leading developmental institutions in all of motorsports and has helped to produce a myriad of NASCAR drivers, pit crew members and auto racing employees.

The list of drivers who have graduated from the Drive for Diversity program include some of NASCAR’s most promising young drivers such as

Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace and 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, Daniel Suarez, who won his title right here at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The D4D graduates speak to he validity of the program, showing that the Drive for Diversity team is a legitimate avenue for young drivers who want to reach NASCAR’s premier series. 

One of those young drivers trying to break into NASCAR through the Drive for Diversity program is Nick Sanchez, who grew up in our backyard right here in Homestead. Earlier this week, Sanchez was named to the 2019 Drive for Diversity team, marking his second consecutive season going through the program after spending 2018 as a member of D4D and Rev Racing.

What’s cool about Nick getting to be part of such a prestigious program is knowing that his exposure to racing started here at Homestead-Miami Speedway, making our complex his home track. As all drivers will tell you, the home track holds a special place in their career. It’s often a place that a driver has great familiarity with and many memories at.

For Sanchez, Homestead-Miami Speedway was the first place he saw racing at as a child. Growing up in the Redlands, Nick regularly attended Ford Championship Weekend for years and developed many fond memories of his time here at the Speedway, leading to his passion for motorsports and eventual desire to drive cars.

When Sanchez finally did get his first chance to get behind the wheel, that happened on our grounds as well. Nick got his start in racing across the street from our track at AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex. Nick began racing karts at our facility when he was 12 years old and has since used that experience to race all over the country and eventually be selected to the Drive for Diversity team for the last two years.

The karting track has become a really popular area of our facility, and helps add to the experience of visiting our championship venue. There’s always a lot of action surrounding the karting track, and as AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex has grown, it’s given a place for drivers from South Florida, such as Sanchez, a place to start their racing careers.

It’s truly amazing to follow the young career of a driver like Sanchez, knowing the impact that Homestead-Miami Speedway has had on life to this point. At Homestead-Miami Speedway, we strive to put on a captivating event each year during Ford Championship Weekend and give our fans the best show possible, but we don’t always realize the magnitude of what we do and how commonly we have a great effect on the people who visit our track.

Hearing stories like Nick’s is not unfamiliar. While it’s not always about someone becoming a driver, I can’t tell you how many times people have told me about the first time they attended an event at Homestead-Miami Speedway and how it has stirred up their interest in motorsports.

To think that someone like Nick Sanchez could see racing for the first time at our track and then pursue a career as a racecar driver is remarkable. It really speaks to the extent of our influence on everyone who walks into our facility throughout the year. Whether it’s for Ford Championship Weekend, FARA races, or even Fast Lane Friday, presented by Metro by T-Mobile, we make sure to make every event as enjoyable an experience as possible because we never know when someone might walk out of Homestead-Miami Speedway with a newfound passion, or in Sanchez’s case, a new career.

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Dec. 7 Rusty Wallace Racing Experience

Dec. 7 Fast Lane Friday, presented by Metro by T-Mobile

De. 8-9 Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA)

Dec. 15 Miami Exotic Auto Racing

Dec. 16 Performance Driving Group

Dec. 28 Miami Exotic Auto Racing

2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 15

Ford EcoBoost 200 Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 16

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy Series Championship

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