Race Weekend Central

Voices From the Cheap Seats: Is NASCAR Slapping Your (Pale) Face?

Recent comments by NASCAR attorneys are once again forcing me to write about the subject of race and/or ethic origin in the NASCAR world. I didn’t want to do it, hadn’t even thought about it, really, for a long, long time. However, when I read something that I think you should know about, I cannot remain silent. Before I begin, let me just issue one little apology to Mr. Brian Z. France.


At the heart of the matter is NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, a slighted driver and Access Communications, the former administrator of said program.

It seems that Michael Rodriguez, a young racer of Puerto Rican and Spanish descent, was passed over for a spot in the program in 2006 because he “looked too Caucasian.” Michael was not happy about this “slight” and is suing Access and NASCAR.

Granted, he does look like he could be a little brother to Joey Logano, but that is not the point. In fact, this article is not even about his plight. Personally, I could care less which way his case goes. This column is about NASCAR’s pompous, arrogant attitude toward the fans that made them all rich beyond their wildest dreams.

As reported in a strictly factual manner by Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News, “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.”

The program was originally run by Access from its inception in 2004 until 2008, when NASCAR basically fired them, stating “Access failed to produce a significant number of minority drivers who advanced to the national NASCAR ranks.”

Even though Access no longer runs Drive For Diversity, their lawyers are being directly supported by France’s vast army of useless thugs (aka lawyers) since they are both named in the lawsuit. They basically argue that they (NASCAR and its program) can discriminate against a candidate based on the color their skin because it is, after all, a “diversity” program.

Whatever. Like I said, I don’t really care about the case, I just want to share with you what NASCAR, by the statements of these lawyers, thinks of you, the fan that built this sport.

“NASCAR recognized their need to change the face of NASCAR,” Access attorney Dhamian Blue said when questioned on the case. “The ultimate desire was to pan across pit road and see minority drivers and minority crewmen … When you talk about changing the face of NASCAR, color weighs very heavily.”

Excuse me? “NASCAR recognized their need to change the face of NASCAR.” ?? Why? Is it our fault that racing has been predominantly a “white” sport? NO! NASCAR sure seems to have liked our white dollars over the years! I guess we’re no longer the diversity they’re looking for.

How about this one? NASCAR attorney Jeff Pasek said during the hearing last week that he “wouldn’t talk about what was fair, but instead what was legal.” Well, guess what. Some very, very few may indeed think that NASCAR being a mostly white sport is “unfair” but guess what? Last I looked, just because it is doesn’t make it illegal!

NASCAR also backs Access attorneys’ statements 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” (emphasis mine).

Well gee, ya know, I think that Caucasians just aren’t represented enough anymore in professional baseball or professional basketball! How far do you think I’d get if I were to start a campaign or program to change that!? Oh yeah, I can’t. That’s probably not legal!

NASCAR did make its own comments on the case. Spokesperson David Higdon released a statement that read, in part, “Absolutely skin color has nothing to do with our decision process. [Rodriguez], like many others, did not make the cut based on merit and merit only.”

Oh really? That is very interesting. Is he saying that a racer should be judged on talent alone? If that is the case, why is there even a need for a diversity program anyway? But wait! Here comes the best part of the whole original article, as can be explained as only lawyers can …

“Access and NASCAR attorneys also argued Wednesday that Rodriguez’s civil rights could not be violated as defined by law because Rodriguez never had a contract with NASCAR or Access, that participation in the program was voluntary and that there were other platforms for a minority driver to get noticed by race teams” (again, emphasis mine).

There ya have it, folks! The best example, if I’ve ever seen one, of NASCAR (and Access) proving in their own words that a diversity program is not even needed.
As I’ve said before, I refuse to apologize for being, and enjoying something that is mostly white!

In a race car going 200 mph, no one can see skin color. All you can see is talent or lack thereof. When you crawl out of the window in victory lane, no one cares what color you are!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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