CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 14, 2005)— The Drive for Diversity program, managed by Access Marketing & Communications, officially announced three new team partnerships for the 2006 season. The new team owners joining Drive for Diversity are drag racing icon Frank Pedregon, Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR driver Jeff Spraker. Further team announcements for the 2006 season are forthcoming.
New and returning team partners will attend the 2006 Drive for Diversity Motorsports Testing & Evaluation Combine at South Boston Speedway in South Boston, Va. on Monday, Oct. 17 and Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2005. During the combine 19 ethnic and gender minority drivers, selected from a competitive pool of over 300 applicants, will contend for the opportunity to participate in the Drive for Diversity program throughout the 2006 season.
"Our goal is to become an initial step in motorsports diversity. The new teams we have been fortunate enough to partner with and the partners returning to the program will help us take, although an initial step, a major step this season in diversity and development," said Greg Calhoun, CEO of Access Marketing & Communications. "Our team partners bring their own unique experiences and a wealth of knowledge to the program and we are excited about the diverse audience of people we will reach together."
Drive for Diversity is an ethnic and gender minority driver and crew development program. In 2004, the first year of the program, five drivers earned spots in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series. This season the number of drivers increased to eight. There will again be eight drivers participating in the program in 2006.
Frank Pedregon will become the first Hispanic owner to be affiliated with the Drive for Diversity program. Pedregon comes from a racing family – his father was known as "The World's Fastest Mexican" and his two brothers also compete on the drag racing circuit.
"My dream has been diversity," Pedregon said. "The NHRA has been great and I am so excited to join the NASCAR family, a sport that is truly working to bring us all together to do what we love. Tish Sheets (NASCAR Director of Diversity) along with the entire NASCAR team have made my experience great so far and I am eager to work with Access Marketing and the Drive for Diversity program throughout the 2006 season."
While Joe Gibbs Racing may be new to Drive for Diversity, the organization is experienced in minority driver development programs. The Joe Gibbs Racing/Reggie White Diversity Program started in May 2003 when Joe Gibbs Racing teamed up with the late NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White to create a grassroots stock car team that would identify and assist minorities with the desire and talent to make a career in motorsports. The program has had two successful seasons on-track and will look to continue its success with Drive for Diversity in 2006.
"The diversity program is a real source of pride for all of us at Joe Gibbs Racing," said J.D. Gibbs, team president. "Reggie had the vision years ago to put a plan together to give young drivers a chance to break into NASCAR that would have never had the chance otherwise. But it's well beyond that now. It's a proving ground for young drivers. The success Aric Almorola and Chris Bristol have had in the past few years has laid the foundation for many more individuals to realize their dreams and bring more diversity to our sport."
Jeff Spraker began his racing career in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series and Featherlite Modified Tour in upstate New York and has competed as a driver and owner in several series such as the NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR Busch North Series. Jeff Spraker and Spraker Racing Enterprises has been an asset to the Drive for Diversity program during 2005. Spraker's Mooresville, N.C. shop housed and maintained current Drive for Diversity driver Michaels Gallegos' car throughout the season.
"Spraker Racing Enterprises is pleased to be a part of the Drive for Diversity," Spraker said. "We are really looking forward to working with the program in 2006."
Drive for Diversity (Access Marketing & Communications)
Pat Walsh, The Ulum Group, 541-434-7021, firstname.lastname@example.org