NASCAR Hosts 2016 Diversity Awards

The NASCAR Diversity Awards recognize the people and organizations in motorsports that champion diversity and inclusion

Roush Fenway Racing pit crew members Raphael Diaz and Mike Russell, both NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates, accept the NASCAR Diverse Crew Member Award during the NASCAR Diversity Awards at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Image: Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Daniel Suárez, headlined a group of eight winners at the ninth annual NASCAR Diversity Awards.

The event, which took place on February 19 at the Daytona International Speedway, led up to the annual Daytona 500.

[Related: Black History Month: Wendell Scott, NASCAR Legend]

The NASCAR Diversity Awards recognize the people and organizations in motorsports that champion diversity and inclusion in eight categories: Industry Ambassador, Diverse Driver, Ignition Award, Diverse Intern, Institution, Partner, Young Driver, and Pit Crew.

Notable previous NASCAR Diversity Awards winners include: Max Siegel, Darrell Wallace Jr., Phoenix International Raceway, Toyota, Coca-Cola, Sunoco, and the University of Central Florida.

Driven by NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, the NASCAR Diversity Awards has become the leading means to recognize multicultural accomplishments across the motorsports industry.

The winners are chosen based on participation or support of NASCAR’s year-round diversity and inclusion initiatives including: NASCAR Drive for Diversity, the leading driver and crew member development program in motorsports; the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program, a paid internship program for ethnically-diverse candidates with high academic standing from elite institutions; and the NASCAR Opinion Leader Initiative, which engages multicultural community, civic, and professional organizations.

“Becoming more diverse and inclusive is a huge priority at NASCAR and we continue to make long-term investments to boost female and minority participation across every level of our sport, on and off the track,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations.

“Widening our appeal is critical to our continued expansion and we are proud to honor today’s winners, and many others across the industry, for their hard work and support.”

The 2016 NASCAR Diversity Awards Winners:

Industry Ambassador Award
 Winner: Claire B. Lang, NASCAR radio host and current host of “Dialed In” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio who has actively engaged with NASCAR diversity and inclusion initiatives— representatives who displays an exemplary effort to incorporate multicultural initiatives as part of his/her job.

Diverse Driver Award
 Winner: Abraham Calderon, 2014 NASCAR Mexico Series Champion
Description: Minority or female NASCAR developmental driver who exemplifies outstanding performance, both on and off the racetrack, in encouraging awareness and interaction with NASCAR and motorsports.

Ignition Award
 Winner: Daniel Suárez, 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR Drive for Diversity alum
. Description: Minority or female NASCAR national series driver who demonstrates leadership both on and off the racetrack while helping to foster the diversity in sport.

Outstanding Intern Award 
Winner: Victoria Kim, a Penn State graduate and Pocono Raceway’s first NASCAR Diversity Internship Program intern. Description: Student who exhibits high performance and leadership skills in academics, as well as during their NASCAR Diversity Internship Program.

Institution Award
 Winner: National Association of Black Journalists.  An organization of journalists, students, and media-related professionals that provides quality programs and services to and advocates on behalf of African American journalists worldwide. 
Description: Civic or educational institution that exposes minorities to motorsports and encourages pursuit of opportunities within the motorsports industry.

Partner Award
 Winner: Chevrolet, for demonstrating a commitment to NASCAR diversity and inclusion goals through its program support and engagement with NASCAR Multicultural Development
. Description: Company that shows commitment to NASCAR diversity and inclusion goals through its program support and engagement with NASCAR.

Young Racer Award
 Winner: Macy Causey, 15, youngest participant in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity. 
Description: Minority or female between the ages of 8-15 years old who has partaken in some form of competitive racing and has overcome adversity in pursuit of his/her dream of participating in the motorsports industry.

Crew Member Award
 Winners: Rafael Diaz and Mike Russell, both of Roush Fenway Racing and part of the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship team
Description: Minority or female crew member who inspires awareness of NASCAR through competitive performance and outreach activities.

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