|2016 class member Enrique Baca speaks with graduate|
Daniel Suarez at the D4D combine
credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Todd Warshaw
NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity (D4D) program has experienced tremendous growth and success in the last few years, with graduates Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr. both finding their way to victory lane in top-tier NASCAR competition. With the announcement of a new D4D class for 2016, this week’s Fast Facts looks at the origins of the program and other drivers who have been involved with the program.
- In 1999, Dodge put Mexican driver Carlos Contreras in a Hot Wheels Ram in the Truck Series with Petty Enterprises, then backed Bobby Hamilton Racing’s effort from 2001-2005 featuring drivers Willy T. Ribbs, Bill Lester, Deborah Renshaw and Erin Crocker. In 2003, Joe Gibbs Racing teamed up with the late Reggie White of the NFL for a diversity program in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series featuring Aric Almirola and Chris Bristol.
- An official NASCAR diversity program was implemented in 2004. Its current training team, Rev Racing, was formed in 2009 by Max Siegel, a music industry executive and former president of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. The team fields cars for six to 10 drivers each season in the Whelen All-American Series and K&N Pro Series East and West, and also includes a pit crew development program.
- Larson, a 2012 graduate of the D4D program, won the 2012 K&N Pro Series East championship as well as the series’ Rookie of the Year award. He has since won three times in the Xfinity Series, once in the Truck Series and captured the Rookie of the Year awards in both the Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series (2013) and Sprint Cup Series (2014). Larson, whose heritage on his mother’s side is Japanese, is currently driving for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Cup Series.
- Wallace Jr., part of the program in 2010 and 2011, won his first race in the K&N Pro Series East in 2010 at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, becoming the youngest driver and the first African-American driver to win at the track and in the series. He also won the series’ Rookie of the Year award in 2010, the first African-American driver to do so. He later raced in the Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing and Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, where in 2013 he became the first African-American driver to win a race since Wendell Scott did it in 1963. Wallace Jr. currently drives for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series.
- Other well-known drivers who participated in the D4D program include JGR driver Daniel Suarez, IndyCar Series team owner Sarah Fisher, Paulie Harraka, Mackena Bell, Sergio Pena and Kenzie Ruston.
- The 2016 D4D class includes Colin Cabre, Ruben Garcia Jr., Jairo Avila and Ali Kern, all of whom will race in the K&N Pro Series East; and Enrique Baca and Juan Garcia, who will compete in the Whelen All-American Series.
- Learn more about Rev Racing and the D4D program at revracing.net.