DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Having just completed perhaps the program’s most exciting preseason to date, the 11-member 2010 Drive for Diversity Class was introduced Tuesday night at the Daytona 500 Experience’s IMAX Theater. This latest group of young, talented and diverse NASCAR drivers was announced for the first time during Speedweeks.
The evolution of the Drive for Diversity program, NASCAR’s leading on-track diversity initiative continues its seventh year in 2010 as competitors relocate to Charlotte and enter “academy-style” development under a single team ownership structure. The 909 Group, which took over operational responsibilities for Drive for Diversity in 2009, will own and operate one team fielding 11 Drive for Diversity competitors. Under the Revolution Racing banner, these minority and female drivers will compete on five NASCAR K&N Pro Series teams and six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams.
“Drive for Diversity, under the day-to-day management of The 909 Group, will continue to provide strong opportunities for minority and female competitors,” said Marcus Jadotte, managing director of public affairs for NASCAR. “This preseason provided key validation of the program’s new structure for developing young drivers and crew members. Academy-style training is proving a welcome evolution of an initiative that has seen 31 drivers compete, winning 33 races. D4D drivers are located in the nerve center of NASCAR with greater access to industry resources, technology, training, testing, and shop experience.”
The 909 Group, a sports and entertainment agency, will continue to provide marketing support to NASCAR’s diversity initiatives. Max Siegel will maintain his role as chief executive officer of both Revolution Racing and The 909 Group.
“We spent most of 2009 thinking about ways to expand opportunities available to the drivers and crew members involved in Drive for Diversity,” Siegel said. “To better assess and develop talent, we are putting drivers under one roof and in identically-prepared cars at Revolution Racing. Our extended evaluation process and training is allowing us to better identify talent and produce results for Drive for Diversity with the goal of getting drivers to NASCAR’s premier series.”
Andy Santerre, a four-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series champion as a driver and team owner, has joined Revolution Racing to oversee that developmental series’ operations. Blair Addis, who has been involved with Drive for Diversity this past season as a team owner, oversees Revolution Racing’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program. Current and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers will serve as coaches and mentors to the drivers, who will be given additional seat time and be allowed to compete in more than one series as they develop.
Revolution’s drivers for the 2010 season were determined following the Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco last October at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. The 11 drivers in the 2010 class will also be featured in a television series, “Changing Lanes,” developed in collaboration with the NASCAR Media Group and set to air this summer on BET. The eight-part series will showcase the development of young Drive for Diversity competitors trying to make it in the world of NASCAR racing.
The following 11 drivers were selected to compete in the program in 2010:
· Mackena Bell of Carson City, Nev., returns to the Drive for Diversity program, and will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. In 2009, Bell was the highest-finishing female in track history in Super Late Models at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.), with a third-place finish.
· Jessica Brunelli of Hayward, Calif., will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. She became the youngest competitor in the Modified division at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. to win a trophy dash.
* Michael Cherry of Valrico, Fla., returns to the Drive for Diversity program and will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Last year he competed in the Late Model division at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway. In 2008, Cherry was rookie of the year at Motor Mile Speedway in the Late Model division.
* Ryan Gifford of Winchester, Tenn., will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. In 2009, Gifford, a Richard Childress Racing development driver, caught the eye of RCR Vice President of Competition Mike Dillon, with his success in dirt Late Models. He had three top-five finishes in four starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East last season, including a runner-up finish in the season finale at Dover International Speedway.
* Katie Hagar of Damariscotta, Maine, returns to the Drive for Diversity program and will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Hagar set a track qualifying record at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2009.
* Paul Harraka of Wayne, N.J., returns to the Drive for Diversity program and will again race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Harraka won two races and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in 2009.
* Rebecca Kasten of Mequon, Wis., will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Last year, Kasten competed in touring Late Model divisions at a number of tracks across the U.S. In 2008, she won two Late Model feature events.
* Sergio Pena of Winchester, Va., will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. In January, he made his series debut at the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, winning the pole and finishing second.
* Megan Reitenour of Miamisburg, Ohio, returns to the Drive for Diversity program in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Last year she competed in the Late Model division at Tri-County Motor Speedway, winning the rookie of the year award. Reitenour is a three-time Ohio state champion in the Bandolero and Legends series.
* Jason Romero of Cameron Park, Calif., will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Romero won the Late Model championship last year at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., also finishing 11th in the national standings.
* Darrell Wallace Jr. of Mobile, Ala., will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. A development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, he got his start racing Legends cars. In 2008 he picked up his first Late Model win at Franklin County Speedway, becoming the youngest driver to win a Late Model race there.
About Drive for Diversity
Drive for Diversity, managed by The 909 Group, develops minority and female drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Since the creation of the Drive for Diversity program in 2004, 31 drivers have competed, winning 33 races. In 2009, 12 Drive for Diversity drivers have combined for six wins, 51 top fives and 125 top 10s. Drive for Diversity also supports pit crew athletes each year in the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Program presented by Sprint. Much of the success of the Drive for Diversity initiative is a result of support from key sponsors and involved team owners. http://www.d4d.tv/