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FONTANA, Calif. -- NASCAR concludes its Western swing this weekend in a historical manner. Jusan Hamilton, 26, became the first African-American to serve as a race director for a NASCAR national series event, controlling on-track activity in Saturday's XFINITY Series race.
The Ithaca, New York, native and former short track racer sees his opportunity as a result of hard work and high goals. What started as a Drive for Diversity internship with the sanctioning body's Integrated Marketing Communications department has turned into a four-year tenure with NASCAR, primarily working in race operations and event management.
"I never really thought of (being the first African-American national series race director) in those terms. … I'm proud of it, and I'm really thankful for the team in the control tower," said Hamilton, whose job this weekend as race director includes making split-second decisions regarding officiating, safety and emergency services.
"I've wanted to work in professional racing since I was a kid watching Kevin Harvick,’’ Hamilton said. "I'm very fortunate to have this opportunity. I've had the chance to learn so many different areas of the sport and business, that's one of the things that's best about working with NASCAR.
"Being race director is similar to being the quarterback in football -- you have to know your job and the jobs of every other team member to be successful."