A walk through the crowd of more than 1000,000 fans at the Daytona speedway may yield few black fans. Maybe there are more but they are most certainly hard to find.
NASCAR, in its search for new markets, wants to change that. Black fans buy the same products as white fans, and their money is the same shade of green.
Tiger Woods changed the complexion of golf, just as Williams sisters did with tennis fans. NASCAR is missing a similar black star, with only one black driver, Bubba Wallace, who placed 38th out of 40 in the recent Daytona 500.
There is one black car owner, Sam Belnavis, and more blacks working in the garages. NASCAR has greatly expanded its diversity programs and Wallace and others occasionally speak at Black colleges to tout the opportunities available to minorities.
“Basically its a white sport,” said fan Eric Wooten, “but it doesn’t have to be that way. It will be different when there are more black drives, when there’s some one who is really successful like Tiger Woods. That’s when it will take off.”
The Dayton 500 is a 500-mile-long race that is regarded as the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar, carrying the largest purse.