13 young drivers selected for chance to be in NASCAR program that promotes diversity

CHARLOTTE — NASCAR on Thursday announced 13 drivers who will race in its Drive for Diversity Combine in November. It is an effort to attract and train diverse drivers.

The Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program was created in 2004 to develop and train minorities and female drivers on and off the track. NASCAR Cup Series drivers Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suárez and Kyle Larson are all alumni of the program, which is operated by Rev Racing in Concord.

The goal is to help create opportunities for everyone.

“One of the things we want to do long term is feed that pipeline of employment, and really expose students to the exciting opportunities that engineering and science have to really kick start that next generation of opportunities for employment,” said Kevin Schlesier with the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The Drive for Diversity Combine is Nov. 14 through 16 in Daytona Beach and New Smyrna, Florida.

Lucas Vera, 15, of Charlotte, has been rising through the ranks of small, local tracks.

“Unlike a lot of other people in racing, I’m a first-generation racer,” Vera said. “No one was really into racing in my family.”

Vera was selected as one of 13 children from across the U.S. and Mexico.

If Vera and 13-year-old Nathan Lyons, of Cornelius, are accepted into Drive for Diversity, they will learn about everything from sponsorships to interview skills and strategies on the track.

“What I’ve learned is that racing is racing is a sport where every move counts,” Lyons said.

Brandon Thomas, NASCAR’s head of diversity and inclusion, said the company is open to everyone from its offices to the racetrack to the driver’s seats and pit road.

Thomas said NASCAR has had its share of challenges.

In June 2020, Thomas was at the forefront of a response after a noose was found in professional driver Bubba Wallace’s team garage.

“I think the heart of the industry, you bring up Talladega, was really shown in the true character in the industry when everybody rallied around Bubba,” Thomas said.

The incident encouraged the industry to accelerate its efforts to overcome the perception that NASCAR isn’t for people of color or women, Thomas said.

“We’ve just really been able to build on that,” Thomas said.

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He added that, “We want to make sure that we’re very intentional about making sure that diverse communities are aware of the opportunities that lie within NASCAR.”

The 2022 combine features the following drivers:

  • Justin Campbell, 17, of Griffin, Georgia
  • Quinn Davis, of 13, of Sparta, Tennessee
  • Eloy Sebastián: (Information not available.
  • López Falcón, 17, of Mexico City
  • Katie Hettinger, 15, of Dryden, Minnesota
  • Caleb Johnson, 15, of Denver, Colorado
  • Nathan Lyons, 13, of Concord, North Carolina
  • Andrés Pérez de Lara, 17, of Mexico City
  • Jaiden Reyna, 16, of Cornelius, North Carolina
  • Jordon Riddick, 17, of Sellersburg, Indiana
  • Paige Rogers, 19, of New Haven, Indiana
  • Lavar Scott, 19, of Carney’s Point, New Jersey
  • Regina Sirvent, 19, of Mexico City
  • Lucas Vera, 15, of Charlotte

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