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The Bubba Wallace Effect: NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Thrives

At the beginning of the NASCAR Monster Energy Series season, when Darrell Bubba Wallace Jr. signed to The King and his name really started bubbling, NASCAR partnered with Migos to promote the super groups Motorsports record. It seemed like a natural tie in and about four or five drivers, including Wallace, got in on it.

“It worked out well where Migos was in LA at the same time that we were out there racing and carved some time out of their schedule to come hang out, Brandon Thompson, managing director of the NASCAR Touring Series told The Shadow League on Friday.

Brandon Thompson on Twitter

@Migos, @austindillon3, @BubbaWallace, @DaltonSargeant & @NASCARHomeTrack late, yes, but I wanted some racing action in the @knfilters version of the #MotorSportChallenge #SkrrtSkrrt https://t.co/lIsuMKTfKQ

It was a crossover appeal for them, but also drew more eyes to our sport that hey we’re cool too.

That meeting of unfamiliar faces is indicative of NASCARs efforts to become a leading model in sports as far as diversifying its entire cultural infrastructure from the bottom up. They’re making an effort to sustain racing and introduce it to the next generation of fans existing in an increasingly diversified sports landscape.

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NASCAR Diversity Internship Program (NDIP)

NDIP welcomed its largest class in program history during the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race weekend earlier this month. More than 30 top students selected from a smorgasbord of diverse backgrounds and academic disciplines from across the country arrived in Charlotte for orientation at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and other racing venues before attending the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race on May 19 as they prepare to take up various positions across the sport.  Each season it gets better.

NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Orientation Weekend 2017

The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program launches with its orientation weekend. Join the interns on their journey through tours and allstar race weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. Video produced, shot, and edited by Cabrell Cooper, video production engineer NDIP intern.

Following orientation, the interns begin the 10-week, paid program.

NASCAR is committed to enhancing diversity both on and off the track and the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program has opened doors for hundreds of students to explore a career in motorsports, said Paula Miller, NASCAR senior vice president and chief human resources officer. Many of our interns have been hired as full time employees and now are helping to lead NASCAR into the future a great testament to the value and success of NDIP.

Lena on Twitter

We Out Here Doing it Big. Black Girls taking over the track! #BlackGirlMagic #Nascar #NDIP

Since its inception in 2000, NDIP has offered a select group of students from diverse backgrounds a unique hands-on experience in the motorsports industry. The program has grown to include several industry partners and continues to provide career opportunities for multicultural students as one of the premier internships in sports.

Among the notable NDIP alumni are Jusan Hamilton, who last year became the first African American to serve as race director for a NASCAR national series event. Erica Wilkerson, who works in youth marketing at NASCAR and manages NASCAR Acceleration Nation, the sports first national youth platform and Pedro Mojica, who interned with Rev Racing and the NASCAR Research and Development Center before joining International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) as a technical engineer, are among others.

Erica L. Wilkerson on Twitter

Good luck to the 2018 class of NDIP. The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program is one of a kind and I’m a proud product of it. #NASCARDiversity https://t.co/rj9m9aeCzp

The point of the program since its inception is… it’s kind of easy for everybody in our sport to focus on diversity in drivers and crews, but its the behind the scenes jobs where you’re going to be able to place more people and that’s just a function of any corporate sports structure, Thompson said.

Even when you look at other stick and ball sports, the front office jobs are a lot more prevalent than the 12 jobs available on each given team. And it’s no different in NASCAR. You’ve got 40 drivers that compete on any given Sunday and then behind those drivers are probably another 40 people per team who put in the work behind the scenes.

The Shadow League has previously featured NASCARs lauded Drive for Diversity (D4D) program, a development system that began in 2004 as the legendary faces of the sport started nearing retirement and revenue began to decline. The goal of the program is to make more money and attract a more diverse audience to the sport by including more people of color and women, not just as drivers, owners and sponsors, such as former Norfolk State hoops star turned pioneering NASCAR back tire changer Brehanna Daniels.

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The Bubba Wallace Effect

There are over 35 graduates of the D4D Crew Member Development Program currently working in NASCAR. Superstar racer Bubba Wallace, whos of mixed race, is the face of NASCARs diversity initiatives.

The NDIP interns will meet the Black Knight of NASCAR, whos also a NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate, and the highest placing African-American driver in DAYTONA 500 history.

In February,  Wallace Jr. became the first Black driver to race in a Daytona 500 since 1969 and the first to race full time for a NASCAR team. During an emotional and historical press conference in which Wallace Jr. was brought to tears, he became an instant legend and a media darling. His success and global celebrity has boosted the interest and quality of applicants in NASCARs  various diversity initiatives.

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Its been great to see Darrells success, it definitely is a boost of energy throughout the company and throughout the garage, Thompson told TSL. And I think seeing a fresh face is what the sport needed. Bubba Wallace would stand the test whether he was black or white. Darrells ability to go win races is more energizing for the sport beyond skin color, but certainly fits in line with what we’ve been trying to do with our diversity initiative.  Last time I spoke with him he admitted that its been overwhelming at times to him and beyond his expectations seeing the positive impact that hes had.

The 2018 NDIP class will have roles at NASCAR and program partners across the industry which include International Speedway Corporation (ISC), Toyota, Motor Racing Network (MRN) and several tracks and teams.

Throughout the program, interns will interact with industry professionals at an array of networking events and lunch-and-learns led by NASCAR executives. The interns will also have access to mentors and NDIP alumni currently working at the sanctioning body and partner organizations.

Jorge Jones on Twitter

Today is the last day to apply for @NASCARDiversity’s #NDIP18! Join a wonderful team committed to your success while gaining knowledge and experience of the motorsports industry. #Internship #NDIP #NASCAR

It’s been encouraging to see the growth of the program since I interned in 03 and 04, Thompson told The Shadow League. To see it still around, No. 1, to see it growing No. 2 and to see the ramp up of people who have received full-time positions because of it is very encouraging to myself as a product of the program and NASCAR.

NDIP is open to sophomores, juniors, seniors and graduate-level college students and offers hands-on experience with one of the top sports industries in the country. The internship provides opportunities to multicultural students from all majors with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.

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