NASCAR is the Surprising New Face of Diversity

NASCAR is the Surprising New Face of Diversity
Source: AP
Source: AP

Darrell Wallace Jr., the first black driver to win a major NASCAR race in 50 years, may signal that the sport is finally developing into the new American pastime it so longs to be.

Diversity is not usually the word outsiders associate with NASCAR, but Wallace's truck series win is the latest victory for a sport trying to expand its image. Wendell Scott, who became the first black driver to win in NASCAR in 1963, was not recognized for his win until years later. 

NASCAR is a sport born from Southern bootleggers, but now uses tracks in states from Delaware to Michigan to New Hampshire. The Drive for Diversity program promotes minority drivers.

As NASCAR changes its image, people should consider changing their ideas about NASCAR.

The white, Southern image of the sport, where the use of a confederate flag has drawn controversy, has lost potential minority fans, as well as white suburbanites and Northerners. But my views changed when Michigan native Brad Keselowski won the Sprint Cup in 2012. Rochester Hills, where Keselowski is from, is about a 20 minute drive from me. It took his win for me to look at how race car driving has clearly extended beyond Southern borders.

Racial milestones in sports occur when the athlete performs at a level that transcend the prejudice of the fans. Yet, the more exciting and slower development is the true integration that occurs after that first barrier is broken. It is the difference in how fans accepted Hank Aaron compared to Jackie Robinson, or Joe Louis to Jack Johnson. Time might show that we're witnessing the same moment now between Wallace and Scott.

Either way, this is a win for sports in general, and race car driving in particular. NASCAR drivers might always turn left on the track, but this puts them on the right side of history.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Paul Ruth

His writing has appeared on the Huffington Post, Deadline Detroit, and Motorcity Muckraker. He is a secondary English Teacher who enjoys writing on politics, education, and identity. He was once stranded in Utah. Located in the Detroit Metro Area

MORE FROM

Despite Trump, military leaders say there will be no changes to transgender policy for now

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect."

Trump will visit Long Island to discuss gang violence — but some fear he could make the issue worse

Trump has celebrated mass deportations as fighting gang violence — but are his words helping or hurting?

Like his boss, Anthony Scaramucci seems to be a fan of disgraced football coach Joe Paterno

President Donald Trump also gave a shout-out to the late Penn State coach during the 2016 campaign.

Ride malfunction at Ohio State Fair leaves 1 dead, 7 injured

The ride reportedly broke apart while in motion.

Despite Trump, military leaders say there will be no changes to transgender policy for now

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect."

Trump will visit Long Island to discuss gang violence — but some fear he could make the issue worse

Trump has celebrated mass deportations as fighting gang violence — but are his words helping or hurting?

Like his boss, Anthony Scaramucci seems to be a fan of disgraced football coach Joe Paterno

President Donald Trump also gave a shout-out to the late Penn State coach during the 2016 campaign.

Ride malfunction at Ohio State Fair leaves 1 dead, 7 injured

The ride reportedly broke apart while in motion.