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September 2009 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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Drive for Diversity Initiative Adopts New Training Style

Drive for Diversity is one of the most aggressive competition-based diversity programs in all of sports. In 2009, 12 Drive for Diversity drivers have combined for six wins, 51 top-five finishes and 125 top-10s.

The 909 Group, which took over operational responsibilities for Drive for Diversity in 2009, will own and operate 10 teams fielding Drive for Diversity competitors. Under the Revolution Racing banner, these minority and female drivers will compete on four Camping World Series teams and six Whelen All-American Series teams.

In addition, Revolution will also create a youth racing initiative that will identify aspiring drivers who may eventually enter Drive for Diversity in late model stock cars.

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, who oversees the sanctioning body's diversity initiatives.

"This new structure for developing young drivers and crew members is an evolution of an initiative that has seen 31 drivers compete, winning 33 races. D4D drivers will be 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. John Story will serve as president of Revolution Racing managing day-to-day operations of the company. Max Siegel will maintain his role as Chief Executive Officer of both Revolution and The 909 Group.

"We've spent most of 2009 thinking about ways to expand opportunities available to the drivers and crew members involved in Drive for Diversity," Siegel said. "All of the teams involved in the initiative since its inception in 2004 have provided meaningful support for the program.

"To better assess and develop talent, we are putting the drivers under one roof and in identical cars. This new standardized structure will also create more meaningful sponsorship opportunities that will in turn provide resources necessary to compete at the highest level with the goal of getting drivers to NASCAR's premier series."

Andy Santerre, a four-time Camping World Series champion as a driver and team owner, will join Revolution Racing to oversee its Camping World Series operations. Blair Addis, a current Drive for Diversity team owner, will oversee Revolution Racing's Whelen All-American Series program.

"Everyone was really critical about whether or not these kids were getting great equipment," Siegel said. "Second of all, how do you create awareness of the program where you're attracting the best talent? The third thing John and I looked at, quite frankly, was how to create a marketing platform and generate interest from some of these commercial sponsors to invest in these careers, which is what it takes to run these cars.
"And last, how do you evaluate the talent?"

Current and former Sprint Cup and 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. The coaches will share information with the drivers in the shop and during their intense on-track testing program which will begin in early November and continue throughout the 2010 season.

Revolution Racing will operate out of a facility in Mooresville, N.C., which Siegel says will be a fully equipped race shop. Funding for the programs combines the contributions of NASCAR and NASCAR partners with the fundraising efforts of Siegel and Story.

"I think we're probably the first organization involved in the program that's gone out and actually raised outside funds," Siegel said. "We want to be vested partners in this and assume a financial risk. John and I put our own money into the acquisition of these race teams, and we went out and sold sponsorship like every other race team out there.

"What we're trying to say to the racing community is that we're passionate about it."

In addition to drivers, Revolution, along with corporate partner Sprint, will continue to build on developing over-the-wall athletes led by long-time pit crew coach Phil Horton, who has trained a significant number of current Cup Series crew members.

"We've had everybody from Jeff Gordon to Jimmie Johnson to Kurt Busch to Mark Martin all basically say it was a really great idea to centralize it, and they said, 'Whatever we can do to help with you guys, we'll be happy to.' "

Revolution's drivers for the 2010 season will be determined following the Drive for Diversity Combine on Oct. 16-19 at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Those drivers will be featured in a television series, Changing Lanes, developed in collaboration with the NASCAR Media Group and set to air in early 2010 on BET. The 10-part series will showcase the development of young Drive for Diversity competitors trying to make it in the big-time world of NASCAR racing.

This article first appeared on NASCAR.com. To view the article, please click here.

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