Building Upon Its Foundation: NASCAR Continues Driving Diversity as Anchor Program Celebrates Anniversary

by Savoy Staff

NASCAR’s John Ferguson (left), Caryn Grant, John Huger Jr. (middle), and Brandon Thompson (right) join Dr. Lawrence Drake at the NASCAR Campus Lab announcement.

The 20th anniversary of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program was barely underway in 2024 when a serendipitous series of events unfolded at the end of February.

On February 21, NASCAR published a three-part video series highlighting the semester-long experience Bethune-Cookman University students had as part of the inaugural NASCAR Campus Lab Program cohort.

Four days later, Mexican native Daniel Suárez won his second career NASCAR Cup Series race in a photo finish for the ages in Atlanta that became the third-closest finish in Cup Series history.

The following Friday, Rajah Caruth – a 21-year-old from Washington D.C. who attends Winston-Salem State University and developed his driving skills on a computer through the online iRacing platform – won his first race in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, joining Wendell Scott and Bubba Wallace as only the third Black driver to win a NASCAR national series race.

It was a perfect illustration of the new reality that the sport has been building toward through its continued commitment to not simply increasing, but sustaining, representation and inclusion.

“The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program is a developmental program designed to provide training and opportunities to drivers and pit crew members from diverse backgrounds and experiences that launched in 2004. Seeing its seeds continue to take hold throughout the sport during the 20th anniversary season is incredibly rewarding, especially as NASCAR continues implementing many other initiatives to ensure we’re fostering inclusion and representation across every part of our industry,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR vice president of diversity and inclusion.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program has helped star drivers like Suárez, Wallace and Kyle Larson reach the pinnacle of the sport while establishing a pipeline for others who strive to join them, like Caruth, fellow NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Trucks driver Nick Sanchez, and 20-year-old Lavar Scott, a promising New Jersey native racing in NASCAR’s ARCA Menards Series. The pit crew component, which recruits and trains top athletes from colleges across the country – including HBCUs and Hispanic Serving Institutions – has an astounding 100% placement rate and drives millions in salary. More than 60 graduates now work in NASCAR, including more than 25 at its highest level.

The competition program has been complemented by the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program. The 10-week, paid summer internship has seen more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students participate since its inception in 2000, with many starting careers in motorsports or securing positions elsewhere in professional sports.

With that initial foundation set decades ago and the social justice stance NASCAR took in 2020 further fortifying its base, recent efforts beyond the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program have accelerated to new levels.

The NASCAR Campus Lab Program with Bethune-Cookman, first announced at the 2023 Daytona 500, is one of the latest and most innovative examples. NASCAR made a $100,000 donation as a part of the program, with all nine students in the inaugural cohort from Daytona Beach’s local HBCU receiving a $3,500 scholarship prize and three winners of a capstone case study competition receiving another $1,500. At least one student will earn a NASCAR internship spot in 2024.

Students got real-world experience managing a budget and developing a marketing activation aimed at attracting more college students and young alumni to attend races at Daytona International Speedway. They saw behind-the-scenes views of careers throughout the industry, were paired with a mentor from NASCAR’s Black employee resource group and received professional development support from human resources professionals.

“Over the span of three months, we saw these students grow more confident and understand how their skills and ideas can be impactful to organizations like NASCAR.” said Caryn Grant, senior director of diversity and inclusion at NASCAR. “That’s what it’s all about.”

Please visit for more details on NASCAR’s programs.


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