By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Joe Gibbs/Reggie White Diversity Program Sets Pace For Driver Development Programs
DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. — This month’s diversity spotlight shines on Joe Gibbs Racing and its successful driver development program. With more teams looking to develop young, diverse drivers, Joe Gibbs Racing has provided the ideal model to follow.
In 2003, Joe Gibbs and NFL great Reggie White created a driver development program to identify and assist minorities with the desire and talent to make a career in motorsports. Midway through its second full season, the program boasts two winning drivers and a bright future.
“The diversity program is a real source of pride for all of us at Joe Gibbs Racing,” said J.D. Gibbs, team president. “Thanks to Reggie White’s vision, our diversity program was the first to be founded and the first to win races. But it’s well beyond that now. It’s a proving ground for young drivers”.
“Talent behind the wheel of a race car comes in all shapes, sizes, creeds and colors. The program’s success has allowed the company to think long term, because we have some really good drivers developing on the grassroots level. Their success will ensure this team’s success now and in the years to come.
“Thanks to such great partners as The Home Depot, MBNA, General Motors, Cintas and Rockwell Automation, the diversity program championed by Reggie White became a reality.”
Aric Almirola and Chris Bristol are both in their second seasons with the program and have each seen their share of success. Almirola, a Tampa, Fla. native, has already captured six wins and has earned a spot behind the wheel in two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races.
In an announcement made July 21 by Joe Gibbs Racing, Almirola will pilot the No. 47 Chevrolet at Memphis Motorsports Park on July 23 and potentially at Indianapolis Raceway Park on August 5.
Bristol, who races at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway, has won a race in each season with the Joe Gibbs team. Earlier this year Bristol became the first African-American driver to win at Hickory in the track’s 55-year history.
“NASCAR salutes Joe Gibbs Racing for having the vision to partner with Reggie White on such an important initiative,” said NASCAR Director of Diversity Tish Sheets. “The success of the program is a sign that the opportunities that are being created for diverse drivers are paying off.”
Both drivers carry the No. 92 on their cars in tribute to the late Reggie White. The No. 92 is the number White wore throughout his football career, playing at the University of Tennessee before becoming a Hall of Fame defensive end in the National Football League.
NASCAR will spotlight teams, tracks, sponsors and partners throughout the year for significant contributions and achievement in diversity. NASCAR will also be highlighting diverse drivers currently competing throughout the different levels of the sport.