When you think of diverse populations in the United States, South Florida is one of the first areas that comes to mind. For years, this region has been a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities. Whether it’s Homestead, Miami, Hialeah or any other section of South Florida, you can find evidence of the many cultures that come together in Miami.
Similarly, Homestead-Miami Speedway is also an indication of this as we attract fans from over a dozen countries and all 50 states for Ford Championship Weekend each year. And just like our Speedway, NASCAR as a whole also worked diligently to engage people of diverse racial and ethnic background in all aspects of the sport. Whether it’s fans, drivers, pit crew members or front office employees, NASCAR is always looking to involve more minorities and females in the motorsports industry.
One of the most prominent ways that NASCAR does this is through their Drive for Diversity (D4D) program. Since its inception in 2004, the Drive for Diversity program 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 employees in the industry.
Among the drivers, Drive for Diversity has helped identify and develop some of NASCAR’s most promising young drivers such as 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez, Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace. The graduates of the program show the success that Drive for Diversity is having and that it is a legitimate path for drivers and crew members who want to get into NASCAR.
Knowing the diversity that is found in our backyard right here in South Florida, it’s no surprise that we continue to have a strong presence amongst the Drive for Diversity team. Just this past week, Dalanda Ouendeno, a former defender on the University of Miami women’s soccer team, was named to the Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program.
Dalanda actually first tried out for the program when they visited the University of Miami to recruit graduating athletes back in March. As a member of the program, Dalanda will train in Charlotte, North Carolina for six months with the hope of one day earning a spot on a national series team.
In the meantime, Dalanda will work the Rev Racing team, the same team that two South Floridians drive for. Ernie Francis Jr. and Nick Sanchez have been a part of Drive for Diversity and Rev Racing for the last two seasons. Francis, who resides in Southwest Ranches is a decorated inroad course racer who has won a number of Trans-Am and FARA races right here at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Sanchez, meanwhile, grew up in the Redlands and is currently racing late models for Rev Racing. What’s really neat about Nick is that like Ernie, he has experience on Homestead-Miami Speedway’s property. Only Nick has never raced on our 1.5-mile oval or 2.21-mile road course.
Instead, Nick was so enamored with a race he attended as a child during Ford Championship Weekend that he started racing go-karts at AMR Homestead-Miami Motorplex. And through his experience at our go-kart track, he was eventually able to land with Drive for Diversity and begin his career.
As someone who’s lived in Miami my whole life, it’s really cool to see so many local people involved in motorsports nowadays. While some people may be aware that Bobby and Donnie Allison are from Miami or that legendary drivers such as Emerson Fittipaldi and Juan Pablo Montoya reside here, there aren’t currently many local ties when it comes to drivers and crews.
But as the Drive for Diversity Program continues to grow and expand, don’t be surprised if more and more South Floridians enter auto racing. Our market is the perfect fit for a program like this, and having the Speedway engrained into the community is a great opportunity to introduce the sport to a diverse audience. I take pride in knowing that Homestead-Miami Speedway plays a role in introducing new faces to the sport and I look forward to seeing who’s next.
NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is off this weekend and will return to action Sunday, September 1 at Darlington Raceway.
Saturday, August 24 at 3:00 PM (ET)
NASCAR Xfinity Series CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America
Tune In: NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
Sunday, August 25 at 2:30 PM (ET)
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90
UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY
Aug. 24-25 Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA)
Sep. 7-8 Ferrari Challenge
Sep. 13 Fast Lane Friday
Sep. 21 Give Back at the Track
Sep. 21 Craft n’ Draft 5K
2019 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Championship Race
Ford EcoBoost 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship Race
Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Series Championship Race
2020 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Race
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race
NASCAR Cup Series Race
See GARCIA 2B