NASCAR Heads Down the Road to Diversity with Magic Johnson Leading the Way

NBA legend, Earvin “Magic” Johnson signed with NASCAR’s newDiversity Program as Co-Chair of the Executive Steering Committeefor Diversity.  Collaborating with the Director of Diversity,Tish Sheets, Johnson’s main objective is to use his celebritystatus and business savvy to make the dream of diversity for NASCARa reality.

The program’s main objective is to introduceminorities to the world of stock car racing by diversifyingNASCAR’s fan base, participants and work force.  Johnsonspecifically will try to accomplish four major duties to build afoundation for the evolution of NASCAR.

One, help complete the selection of theExecutive Steering Committee for diversity.  Two, assistNASCAR with creating programs that identify and develop AfricanAmerican, Hispanic, and women drivers and crewmembers.  Three,help NASCAR develop marketing programs that will increase sportsvisibility in urban communities and raise awareness of career andcompetitive opportunities in motor sports.  Four, serve as anadvisor to NASCAR’s Chief Operating Officer George Pyne who hasday-to-day operational responsibilities with diversity inNASCAR.

“Magic will have a hands-on role in helping toincrease diversity in our sport.  Magic will help NASCARachieve its goals to better educate new audiences and facilitategreater participation among the industry and communities of color,”said George Pyne, chief operating officer of NASCAR, according toFoxSports.com.

NASCAR has already initiated other programsand support services to launch their drive for diversity. These include the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program, Drive forDiversity Program, funding for scholarships to Historically BlackColleges and Universities and Hispanic Serving Institutions, NASCARCollege Tour presented by Coca-Cola Company, support of Urban YouthRacing School, and support of various civil rightsorganizations.

Through these other diversity programs,Johnson is showing society that this is not just a businessventure; that NASCAR’s heart is really in diversifying.

“They’re trying to do the right thing and Iwant to be a part of it,” said Magic Johnson.  Johnson isamazed at how many people NASCAR is touching in terms of businessopportunities, scholarships, and employment.

Only 25 percent of NASCAR’s fan base isminority, according to a 2002 ESPN/Chilton pole.  However,this percentage is rising as the number of African American fansincreased by 18 percent since 1995, which is about 2 million peopleand Hispanic fans increased by 38 percent since 1995 equaling about3 million people.

Today, 74 percent of fortune 500 firms havemanaged cultural diversity and 28 U.S. firms report on commitmentto cultural diversity.  Diversity programs are coming of ageas the American society continues to change and many companies seethe need to embrace this form of growth that is affecting thedevelopment of companies in the 21st century.

“I honestly do not know how companies who donot embrace diversity are able to survive,” said John Stollenwork,President of Allen Edmonds Shoe Corp.