NASCAR Diversifies Using the Tribal Method


Tes Lee of Rousch Fenway pit crew, Candice Allen, Ryan Gifford and another pit crew team member.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about how “A Tribe Will  Get You Far” on my other blog At The Table.  The post was about how for maximum impact and momentum, you need a tribe that believes in and promotes your cause.  According to Seth Godin, “the goal is not to find people who have already decided that they urgently want to go where you are going. The goal is to find a community of people that desire to be in sync and who have a bias in favor of the action you want them to take.”

I was very interested to learn that NASCAR is employing the tribal method to:
– Broaden the demographics of NASCAR fans
– Expose diverse people to the NASCAR industry
– Expose diverse people to the numerous career opportunities throughout the NASCAR industry
– Integrate diversity into all aspects of the NASCAR industry
– Involve diverse target markets

NASCAR Chicago Marcus Presenting

Marcus Jadotte, VP of NASCAR Public Affairs & Multicultural Development gave an introduction to the NASCAR brand and their goals for diversity.

On Thursday, September 12th, I attend a reception hosted by NASCAR and the National Urban Fellows at the offices of Ariel Investments in Chicago.  It was a great reception that drew equal numbers of men and women, which was a pleasant surprise.  Marcus gave a brief presentation on the NASCAR brand, partners and their diversity initiatives.  One of these initiatives is Drive For Diversity, the industry’s leading development program for minority and female drivers and crew members.

NASCAR Diversity_VictoryLane_922x520_jpg_main

This year, 19 diverse college students will have the opportunity to complete a 10-week, paid summer internship through the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program providing students hands-on experiences across various disciplines, including marketing, engineering, communications, licensing, diversity and public affairs.

Marcus made it clear that they are doing the roadshow to provide a real experience to people they hope will become supporters and promoters. We are more likely to promote something we believe in, and we are more likely to believe in something we experience on a physical and emotional level.

A key part to developing our connection to the brand was through meeting an actual driver who came up through the ranks of NASCAR through the Drive For Diversity program.  Ryan Gifford, was very personable and authentic. He started go-cart racing at 8 years old in his home state of Tennessee.

“Fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment makes us stronger as an organization.”   –Marcus Jadotte.

NASCAR Chicago me and Ryan

Ryan Gifford, 23, is competing in his fourth season for Rev Racing under the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program in 2013. Gifford completed the 2012 season 11th in points with two top-5 and three top-10 finishes in 14 races for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He finished his 2011 season 10th in the standings with four top 10s in 12 races.
His pole win at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia made Ryan the first African American in series history to record such an accomplishment.

One of the surprising facts and barriers to NASCAR is that it is a very expensive sport; costing upwards of $500K a year per driver. It can cost parents $2,000 to $10,000 a year to have their kids in a competitive go-cart racing program with dreams of one day reaching NASCAR.
The NASCAR diversity program helps to alleviate this barrier to entry through funding. Of course, once drivers reach the national level as Ryan will next year, it is their responsibility to obtain their own sponsors.

NASCAR Drive For Diversity Drivers 2013

2013 Drive For Diversity Drivers (L to R): Bryan Ortiz, Daniel Suarez, Mackena Bell and Ryan Gifford

I consider the Chicago outreach a great success. Based on feedback from several in our group, there are some new NASCAR fans and we would definitely attend events in the future.  I have already signed on to assist with any promotional events in the area.

Here are some photos from the reception.  My flickr photo album also includes photos from the VIP Experience during the Sprint Cup Series at the Chicagoland Speedway.  I’ll write a post about that on a later date.

NASCAR Chicago me and Sanura

Me and Sanura of Alliance of Black Leaders and Entrepreneurs (

NASCAR Chicago me Diana and Isa

Me and two National Urban Fellows: Diana Mendoza, and Isa Ellis

NASCAR Chicago men

NASCAR Chicago me and Marcus Jadote

Marcus and me chatting about how NASCAR can connect with Chicago Public Schools. Exciting times!!

Categories: Diversity

Tags: , , , ,

3 replies

  1. You do some of the most INTERESTING things Sherry….Pioneer Woman! Congratulations on taking the plunge and enjoying life and all it can lead to!

  2. I was speaking on your blog last night to this guy who I thought was a genius. He has developed this company called Blog Into Book. Pretty innovative and I told him I’d share his info with you:

    Link to site:

    His name is Zack Price – awesome guy!!!

    • Hi Sheri,

      It’s so good to hear from you. I haven’t been able to connect with you at the Taskforce events yet but I hope to soon.

      Thanks for mentioning my blog. I’ll check out Zack’s site. Maybe the three of us can meet-up.


I woud like to hear from you

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: