For much of its 70 plus year history, NASCAR has often been viewed as a “good ole boys” club where the Confederate stars and bars were as much a part of racing as the checkered flag.

In recent years, NASCAR has been working very hard to change that image from banning the “Stars and Bars” from all tracks to creating numerous diversity programs designed to open the sport to groups that have long thought the sport had no place for them.

On October 7, 2021 NASCAR presented the annual Drive for Diversity Awards in a ceremony from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

On October 4 in a rain shortened event, Bubba Wallace and his 23 XI Racing number 23 car became only the second driver of colour to win a NASCAR premiere league event at Talladega Superspeedway.

Twelve recipients were presented awards in the 14th annual Drive for Diversity Awards for their commitment to expanding diversity and inclusion to NASCAR, its tracks, events, and races, and personnel.

NASCAR President Steve Phelps spoke on the Awards and the recipients saying, “the substantial progress our sport has made with regard to diversity, equity and inclusion is a result of the collective work of many leaders within the NASCAR community who are driving us forward together.  These awards celebrate those whose passion and commitment are strengthening a NASCAR culture that is welcoming and inclusive of everyone that shares a love of racing.”

Winners of the 2021 Drive for Diversity Awards:
The Crew Member Award went to pit crew veteran and Drive for Diversity alum Brian Eastland.

The Developmental Series Driver Award has two winners; Rajah Caruth is the first person to make the transition from iRacing to live racing.  When Caruth joins the Xfinity Series next season, he will join Bubba Wallace as a DFD alum who has achieved success in NASCAR as a driver one of the sports top three series.

Toni Breidinger is the first Arab American female to compete in a NASCAR sanctioned event.  She helped to welcome in the 2021 racing season as one of the drivers in the ARCA Menards Series race in Daytona.  In a sport filled with alcohol, auto parts, and products aimed predominantly toward men; Breidinger brought the first female centric beauty sponsorship to NASCAR with Huda Beauty.

The past few years has seen a wave of non-racing athletes come to NASCAR as owners and crew members.  Former NFL player Bernard Pollard took home the Sam Belnavis Industry Ambassador Award.  His enthusiasm over learning more about NASCAR has inspired others to also learn more about the sport.  Using social media to document his journey, Pollard has begun iRacing, attending races, and has become an ambassador in the sport.

After the death of Sam Belnavis in July of this year, NASCAR has renamed the award after the former GM and owner.  As a man of colour, Belnavis was a trailblazer himself.

A Youth Community Partner of NASCAR, The Boys and Girls Club has been named the recipient of the Institution Award.  The partnership helps to show young minorities that NASCAR is a viable career path.

Fresh off of his Talladega win, Bubba Wallace won the National Series Driver Award.  Wallace has been instrumental is opening dialogue on issues of diversity, racism, and social injustice  It was Wallace who helped lead the way for NASCAR to eliminate open signs of racism at tracks including the Confederate flag.  Wallace drivers the number 23 car for the newly formed 23 XI Racing owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin.

As a winner of the Outstanding Intern Award, Thailand native Korn Supatrabutra has completed an internship and is now a part of the NASCAR marketing department.

Also a winner of the Outstanding Intern Award Iris Wright is not only a member of the NASCAR Multicultural and Youth Marketing team; she has also initiated the NASCAR Kids Club.

The Partner Award went to RISE – a non-profit organization aimed at addressing racial issue in sports.  NASCAR now requires diversity training for all drivers and team employees; it is RISE who helps present those training programs.

Another new team this year, Trackhouse Racing was presented with the Team Award.  Trackhouse Racing is owned by Justin Marks and Latin music star Pitbull with Mexican born driver Daniel Suarez behind the wheel of the Trackhouse Racing number 99 car.  While Marks and Pitbull are hoping to rack up numerous race wins and championships; the duo is also focused on promoting diversity within the sport.

Nashville Superspeedway won the Track Award for returning to NASCAR  this season hosting events in all three series and helping to improve communities.  As the head of Nashville Superspeedway, Erik Moses is the first man of colour in NASCAR to be a track president.

The first Mexican born female driver, Young Racer Award winner Regina Sirvent is a staunch advocate for female and Hispanic drivers in NASCAR.