Drive For Diversity Program To Host Twenty-Four Candidates At The 2007 Drive For Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 3, 2007) – Twenty-four drivers from different forms of racing all over the country will showcase their skills in front of NASCAR team owners at the fifth annual Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine October 15–16 at South Boston Speedway in South Boston, Va. This year's candidates were selected from more than 200 applicants from across the United States.
"The number of minority and female drivers interested in participating in the Drive for Diversity program continues to grow each year in both quantity and quality," said Malcolm Calhoun, vice president of Access Marketing & Communications, which runs the Drive for Diversity Program. "Our partnership with NASCAR allows us to provide these up-and-coming drivers the opportunity to showcase their talent and dedication to motorsports."
Since the creation of the Drive for Diversity program in 2004, 17 competitors who are minorities or women have driven in NASCAR's developmental series, winning 11 races.
The 24 drivers participating in the Combine, including the seven members of the 2007 Drive for Diversity class, will participate in on- and off-track evaluation. The on-track session will be conducted in NASCAR Grand National Division cars and will include testing, qualifying laps and intermediate runs. Drive for Diversity affiliated team owners will select eight drivers to compete for their teams in 2008 in either the NASCAR Grand National Division or the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Four drivers will compete in each series.
The following drivers will participate in the 2007 Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine:
- Chris Bristol (Jamestown, N.C.) was part of the Drive for Diversity program in 2006. In 2007, he competed in a limited number of NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races.
- Kristin Bumbera (Sealy, Tex.) is currently fourth in the ASA Pro Late Model division at Houston Motorsports Park, with two top-fives and seven top-10s.
- Michael Cherry (Valrico, Fl.) is the points leader at Hendry County Speedway in the Sportsman division with eleven wins, 17 top-fives, and 19 top-10s.
- Tiffany Daniels (Smithfield, Va.) earned five top-fives and eight top-10s in the Limited Late Model division at South Boston Speedway this season.
- Michael Gallegos (Wheat Ridge, Colo.) competed in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series this season as part of the Drive for Diversity program.
- Jill George (Cedar Falls, Iowa) enjoyed one win and eight top-10s in 16 Late Model starts in 2007.
- Katie Hagar (Nobleboro, Maine) is the only female competitor in the Pro All Star Series in New England this season.
- Paul Harraka (Fair Lawn, N.J.) is a member of the 2007 Drive for Diversity class. He earned 11 top-fives and 14 top-10s in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series this season.
- Jessica Helberg (Rohnert Park, Calif.), a member of the 2007 Drive for Diversity class, competed in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and earned six top-five finishes.
- Joe Henderson (Nashville, Tenn.) participated in the Drive for Diversity program in 2004 and 2005.
- Jesus Hernandez (Fresno, Calif.) finished 12th overall in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series in 2007 as a member of the Drive for Diversity program.
- Peter Hernandez (Blue Island, Ill.) earned one win for the Drive for Diversity program this season at Caraway (N.C.) Speedway.
- Lindsey King (Cherry Valley, Calif.) has one top-five and four top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series this season.
- Lloyd Mack (Los Angeles, Calif.), a participant in the 2007 Drive for Diversity program, competed in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series.
- Danny Martin (Sarasota, Fla.) collected three USCS wins and 10 top-five finishes this season.
- Marisa Niederauer (Plainedge, N.Y.) competed in the True Value Modified Racing Series in 2007.
- Alli Owens (South Daytona, Fla.) earned six top-five finishes in Late Model competition this season.
- Ruben Pardo (Mexico City, Mexico) competed in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series this season and scored three top-fives.
- Alison Quick (Redding, Iowa) has earned two top-fives and eleven top-10s this season in her Dirt Modified at Southern Iowa Speedway.
- Jose Luis Ramirez (Mexico City, Mexico) ran a partial schedule in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series in 2007.
- Molly Rhoads (Hastings, Minn.) competed in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series during the 2007 season.
- Jonathan Smith (Beacon Falls, Conn.), a member of the 2007 Drive for Diversity class, competed in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series.
- Trista Stevenson (Pocahontas, Ill.) earned two top-fives and eight top-10 finishes in her Late Model this season.
- Michelle Theriault (Bristol, Conn.) set the record in 2007 as the highest finishing female in NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East history.
About the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR's national championship program for short-track racing. Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering, a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting is the series sponsor. More than 10,000 drivers compete at 49 NASCAR sanctioned short tracks throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The local racing program was founded in 1982. Since its inception, the series has been a successful starting point for the careers of many top drivers. NASCAR stars Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte, Jamie McMurray, Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers all began their careers in this series.
About the NASCAR Grand National Division
The NASCAR Grand National Division is compiled of the NASCAR West Series and the East Series. This division represents NASCAR's top regional touring series, where competitors will refine their skills before making the jump to one of NASCAR's three national series. Many of today's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stars trace their roots to the Grand National Division, including drivers David Gilliland (2004 West Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year), Kevin Harvick (1998 West Series champion), and Martin Truex Jr. (East Series), and crew chief Greg Zipadelli (1997 East Series champion crew chief).
About Drive for Diversity
The Drive for Diversity Program, run by Access Marketing & Communications, seeks to develop minority and female drivers in the NASCAR Grand National Division and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Drive for Diversity also supports 12 crew member trainees each year. The Drive for Diversity Program is committed to supporting and enhancing diversity in all aspects of motorsports. The goal is to foster an environment that enables people from diverse backgrounds to participate in all levels and capacities of NASCAR. Much of the success of the Drive for Diversity initiative is a result of support from key sponsors and involved team owners.
Access Marketing & Communications
South Boston Speedway
Director of Media Operations
Office Phone: (336) 599-0162, extension 111
Speedway Office Phone: (434) 572-4947