A new auto racing team is working to create a pipeline to diversify not only IndyCar drivers but the motorsports industry as a whole. Force Indy will focus on hiring and training Black men and women into various roles in auto racing.
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IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) officials announced the new professional team Thursday in Indianapolis.
The Force Indy team will be introduce and train Black men and women in all the roles that make up a team including mechanics, engineers, drivers and staff.
The team will start competing in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship series. Its goal is to help bring talent through the ladder and compete in the NTT IndyCar series.
Force Indy will be led by Rod Reid who has been running an auto racing training program in Indianapolis geared towards African American and underrepresented youth.
After decades working in the industry, Reid said there hasn’t ever really been an invitation to the Black community to be a part of motorsports, whether as a fan or employee. He believes this new team could help build a connection.
“Well, I think first of all, it demonstrates visually that there is a commitment on the part of the leadership in motorsports,” said Reid.
The team will receive mentorship from Team Penske.
Jimmie McMillian was appointed Penske Entertainment Corp.’s chief diversity officer this past October as a part of the company’s Race for Equality & Change initiative.
McMillian said that despite efforts by others, the sport still remains largely White.
"Some of the things that we've heard in our process of trying to evaluate those issues is a lack of applicants, a lack of people who have interest in the sport or who apply for positions when they're available, or people who don't have the training, that they need to jump on a team or be a part of a team in some way,” said McMillian. “For my viewpoint, there’s also a lack of education. Some of it is because people are not interested in the sport or they are not interested in coming to the race because they don’t see anyone that culturally looks like them.”
McMillian said he hopes the Force Indy team will help create opportunities for other teams' diversity efforts.
The team will be based out of North Carolina for now and will compete in its first race next March.