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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR celebrated the outstanding accomplishments of pioneering individuals and organizations in the area of diversity at the fourth annual NASCAR Diversity Luncheon.
"Teams, tracks, sponsors and other stakeholders play a vital role in our efforts to further diversify our sport," said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR managing director of public affairs. "The NASCAR Diversity Awards are a small way to say thank you and recognize a few special people who create awareness and opportunity in NASCAR."
At a ceremony held at The Daytona 500 Club at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR recognized the following individuals and organizations across the industry for their outstanding impact:
Drive for Diversity Participant: Darrell Wallace Jr.
Darrell Wallace Jr. became the first African American and youngest driver in history to win a race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Darrell was also crowned rookie of the year and became the first African American to achieve the honor. Wallace Jr., 17, who lives in Concord, N.C., started racing when he was 9 years old and has found plenty of success along the way. In 2009, Wallace was named a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing. With support from JGR, he competed with his family-operated team in a number of late model events throughout the Southeast. He won his first late model race at Franklin County Speedway (Callaway, Va.) in 2008, becoming the youngest driver to win a late model race at the historic speedway, at age 14. He graduated last month from North West Cabarrus High School in Concord, N.C., on the honor roll.
Young Racer Award: Elijah Bacon
Elijah Bacon, 12, hails from Mooresville, N.C., where an interest in auto racing blossomed. Bacon, who is African American, was identified for the Revolution Racing Youth Driver Program last year after a community auto racing event at the New Birth Church in Huntersville, N.C. Last year marked his first year in racing, driving Bandoleros for Revolution Racing where he had three podium finishes. His most memorable experience came when he finished second in just the third race of his career.
NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Award: Kathryn Lee and Brittani Parker
Kathryn Lee, 20, of Jacksonville, Fla., interned last summer in the NASCAR Human Resources department in Daytona Beach, Fla. She’s currently a senior at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Some of the projects she worked on included “Bring Your Kids to Work Day,” NASCAR University, and creating the framework for the new NASCAR employment website. Lee also did administrative research, including employee reference and background checks, and researching job posting databases.
Brittani Parker, 22, of Winston-Salem, N.C., was an intern last summer with The NASCAR Foundation in Charlotte where she performed a number of key duties. She’s a graduate of Winston-Salem State University. Parker also served as lead coordinator for a NASCAR Foundation-sponsored event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, where 3,000 inner city youth and 1,000 business community members came together at the Hall of Fame to celebrate summer learning and the Freedom Schools program. She assisted with NASCAR Day projects, including event planning and project coordination of the Ronald McDonald playground built in Kansas City, and coordinated donor receipts and gift records for events such as the Rusty Wallace Roast in Iowa.
The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is a 10-week paid summer internship program that exposes students to the many career opportunities within the motorsports industry.
Educational Institutional Award: Virginia State University
Virginia State University is awarded this prestigious honor because of their role in shaping tomorrow’s industry leaders. The school has set a high standard of excellence in the motorsports industry, and it is a prime example of the level of involvement and passion its students portray in regard to NASCAR and the entire motorsports industry. The institution has inspired and raised the student body’s interest and appreciation of motorsports. Professor Dr. Leon Bey received the award on behalf of Virginia State University, who has made great contributions to the advancement of the motorsports program at the school.
NASCAR Partner Award: Toyota
Toyota is recognized for their exemplary effort to incorporate diversity and inclusion within the motorsports industry. Toyota will be a vital component of Revolution Racing, the team all NASCAR Drive for Diversity racers will drive for this coming season. They have recognized the value and accomplishments of the team’s mission and will play a major role in the success of Revolution Racing. Revolution Racing will be the only team in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East without an affiliation to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team that will receive Toyota Racing Development support.
Toyota was the primary sponsor to Darrell Wallace Jr.’s No. 6 car at the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown last month, and they will have a year-long primary sponsorship of one car in both the NASCAR K& Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Industry Ambassador Award: Phil Horton
Phil Horton is the strength and conditioning coach for Revolution Racing, and is a 10-year veteran in NASCAR. Horton is a former pit crew coach for Chip Ganassi Racing, and driver Juan Pablo Montoya. He has accumulated 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup, 11 NASCAR Nationwide Series and five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins with notable drivers such as Rick Crawford, Jason Keller, Dale Jarrett, and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Horton is honored for being an outstanding figure in this industry for his commitment to diversity in the motorsports industry, growing the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program, and his ability to bring talented people to the program. A total of 40 athletes have participated in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development Program since its inception in 2004, and last year program participants competed in 160 races, including 34 at the NASCAR Camping World Truck or NASCAR Nationwide Series levels. Horton is from Lenoir, N.C.