The face of NASCAR is changing. The skin tones are darker, and in some cases, the hair is getting longer, and the faces prettier. No, Kyle Larson isn’t sporting a man bun. Diversity is coming to NASCAR, and it’s a good thing.
Please don’t misunderstand me; you can count me among those that believe advancement should be based on merit and not on fulfilling a quota. But check it out: Daniel Suarez- a native of Mexico- just won an Xfinity Series race at Michigan. Besides the win, he has 29 top tens in 48 NXS starts; the dude is no flash in the pan. He’s the points leader, something that gets missed among all the wins pilfered by Cup drivers who often infiltrate the race schedule. Darrell Wallace Jr.- who has five truck series wins- is ninth in the Xfinity standings. The driver of mixed ethnic heritage, with 21 top tens in the XFS has gone way beyond novelty status.
You can say all you want about the advantages they have with the equipment they run- Suarez is a Joe Gibbs driver, while Wallace races for Jack Roush- but we all know of others in NASCAR who have done far less with more. Others who haven’t made it are sufficient proof that being different only gets you so far.
That’s to say nothing of Rico Abreu, who has not only Portugese and Italian in his bloodlines, at 4-feet-4 inches tall, he is among a group of people who are often told they can’t do certain things because of what they are born with. He numbers two top ten finishes among his seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts.
If you thought the idea of women in racing was pretty cool, but maybe you’re cold to Danica Patrick, I present to you Paige and Claire Decker. The Wisconsin college students who happen to be sisters will be attempting to make the Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway this Sunday. A cousin- Natalie Decker- is gearing up for an ARCA series race next Saturday in St. Louis.
It remains to be seen how far this group will go. It’s a “fur piece”- my grandpa would say- beginning to ending. What we do know is that without a doubt, they won’t be the last drivers of color, or the last drivers of the fairer sex, or even the last drivers of unique physical characteristics to descend upon the series. More and more keep pouring in, and among them will rise stars that breathe new life into NASCAR.
Someday, we will hardly notice the presence of a Latino, a woman or maybe even a deaf driver in the sport. For now, the ascension of this diverse group of youngsters demonstrates that the notion of NASCAR being a sport only for white southern men is a myth. Like other great things in America, the opportunity is there for the taking with those possessing the drive and the talent to fulfill their God-given potential.