GMS extends driver development opportunities: GMS Racing officials announced the creation of the GMS Racing Driver Development program, aimed at providing opportunities for drivers to progress from local to national level racing. GMS Racing fields four entries in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, a part-time NASCAR XFINITY Series entry and also partners with Mitchell Coble Racing to field dirt late model and modified entries at local tracks throughout the year.
"This is a great opportunity not only for GMS Racing to grow our program, but for young drivers to get an chance to experience racing at different levels," said Mike Beam, GMS Racing Director of Competition. "We want to allow more drivers to test their talent and to give them a way to show how far they could take a team if they were given a chance to move up. Hickory is a great place to get the word out. It's always been home to me. I grew up watching races and had a chance to win a few as a crew chief there. I won my last race there 30 years ago so it will be cool to get back there with Kyle and GMS Racing."
On Saturday, September 3, Washington, N.J., native Kyle Mansch will pilot the No. 23 GMS Racing Driver Development Chevrolet Limited Late Model entry at Hickory Motor Speedway in the 40th Annual Bobby Isaac Memorial. At 30 years old, Mansch has accumulated 20 wins in the Limited Late Model Series throughout a 12-year career. Many of his wins, including his most recent in 2015, came at the historic Hickory Motor Speedway.
More information on the GMS Racing Driver Development program and potential opportunities for the 2017 season will be available at a later date.(GMS Racing)(9-2-2016)
Larson the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity to win Cup race: #42-Kyle Larson won Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway to become the first graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and the NASCAR Next programs to win at the sanctioning body's top level. Larson, the 24-year-old Elk Grove, California, native of Japanese-American heritage, has already won in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His first win came in 2013 at Rockingham Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He has since won another NASCAR Camping World Truck race, as well as four NASCAR XFINITY Series races. The win at Michigan was the latest in a long line of 'firsts' accomplished by Larson in his young career. Among the highlights:
- In 2014, Larson became the first NASCAR D4D and NASCAR Next product to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole (Pocono Raceway), as well as the first to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
- In 2013, he became the first NASCAR D4D graduate to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
- Larson previously became the first NASCAR D4D competitor to win a NASCAR Touring Series championship. Driving for Rev Racing, Larson won the 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
On Sunday, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver won the Pure Michigan 400, driving the #42 Chevy, leading a race-high 41 laps in his 99th career start. With the win, Larson clinches a spot in NASCAR's playoffs - the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
NASCAR Next is an industry-wide initiative designed to spotlight to best and brightest rising young stars in racing. NASCAR Drive for Diversity, operated by Rev Racing, is an academy-style development program for female and multicultural drivers and crew members who have the potential and determination to succeed at the highest levels of NASCAR. Larson raced under both banners in 2012.(NASCAR)(8-29-2016)
Top College Athletes Join NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Program: NASCAR and Rev Racing announced nine former college student-athletes selected to participate in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) Crew Member Development Program. The new class of participants received invitations to train with Rev Racing following standout performances at the first national D4D pit crew combine in May. Multicultural athletes starring in football, basketball and softball at the college level will receive expert training as tire changers, carriers and jackmen, with the goal of gaining fulltime employment with NASCAR national series race teams. "We've assembled a very talented group of athletes who we believe has what it takes to excel on pit road in NASCAR," said Jim Cassidy, senior vice president of racing operations. "Each D4D participant will benefit from Rev Racing's best-in-class training program, and we look forward to watching them grow and develop over the next 12 months."
This year NASCAR and Rev Racing revamped the crew member scouting process, hosting tryouts at six universities across the country. Eighteen men and women from 12 states and one U.S. territory were selected to compete in the national combine in Concord, N.C. Half earned invitations to join the D4D pit crew program. "We are very excited for the arrival of the new 2016 Drive for Diversity pit crew recruits," said Max Siegel, owner and CEO of Rev Racing. "With the national combine and recruitment effort this past year, we were able to select the top level of athletic talent. We look forward to training these individuals and placing them along pit road in the national series. Our academy-style approach to training continues to show success year after year; this class will not fall short."
Among the new D4D participants are three former football players from the University of Kansas, one of the schools to host tryouts. Appalachian State's Jeremy Kimbrough, who spent time with the Washington Redskins, and Joshua Tate, an All-American at Clark Atlanta University, are also looking to transition from the gridiron to NASCAR. A pair of female athletes in former Norfolk State, basketball player Brehanna Daniels and former Alcorn State University softball player Breanna O'Leary, will train as tire changers under the tutelage of Phil Horton, Rev Racing's director of human performance. There are 35 graduates of the D4D Crew Member Development Program currently working in NASCAR. Three alums - Raphael Diaz, Kevin Richardson and Richie Williams - celebrated in Victory Lane as members of Chris Buescher's pit crew after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver won his first premier series race at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 1. Last November, Diaz and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Mike Russell became the first D4D graduates to win a national series championship when Buescher clinched the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.
The new members of the D4D Crew Member Development Program include:
First, Last, Hometown, University, Primary Sport
Brehanna Daniels, Norfolk, Va., Norfolk State University, Basketball
Kapil Fletcher, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., University of Kansas, Football
Tedarian Johnson, Jackson, Miss., University of Kansas, Football
Jeremy Kimbrough, Decatur, Ga., Appalachian State University, Football
Corey King, Boca Raton, Fla., University of Kansas, Football
Lamar Neal, Virginia Beach, Va., Norfolk State University, Football
Breanna O'Leary, Amarillo, Texas, Alcorn State University, Softball
Jorden Paige, Buffalo, N.Y., Clark Atlanta University, Football
Joshua Tate, Memphis, Tenn., Clark Atlanta University, Football
The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, under the leadership of Rev Racing, supports both crew member and driver development opportunities. Driver graduates include NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson, and NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr.(NASCAR)(8-18-2016)
NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest returns: NASCAR and Chevrolet announced the launch of the second annual NASCAR Chevrolet Diversity Scholarship Contest during a press conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Through this initiative, NASCAR and Chevrolet continue their longstanding commitment to Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) education and promoting opportunities for college students pursuing technology related careers. The contest challenges students to identify a technology or innovation within NASCAR and explain how STEM professionals came to its design in 90-second videos submitted on chevyscholarship.nascardiversity.com. Four winners will receive a total of $20,000 in scholarships and a VIP experience at Texas Motor Speedway during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race on November 6, 2016. In what has quickly become an important component of NASCAR's diversity and inclusion platform, the scholarship program helps both organizations attract young, diverse talent to the world of motorsports. Video submissions will be judged on technical accuracy, creativity and production quality. Winners will be awarded a scholarship and an exclusive, behind-the-scenes race experience in Texas, including a tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage, pace car rides and meet-and-greets with Team Chevy drivers and Chevrolet NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Program Manager, Alba Colon.(NASCAR)(7-24-2016)
NASCAR Drive for Diversity to Host First National Pit Crew Combine: Following a national talent search, 18 multicultural and female athletes earned invitations to compete in the first-ever national NASCAR Drive For Diversity (D4D) Crew Member Development Combine today [5-27-2016] in Concord, NC. Former college football, basketball, softball and track and field athletes will be evaluated based on a series of fitness, agility and pit crew drills at the NASCAR Research & Development Center. The 10 top-performing participants will be invited to join the NASCAR D4D Crew Member Development Program, operated by Rev Racing, and receive expert training as tire changers, carriers and jackmen, with the goal of gaining fulltime employment with NASCAR national series race teams. Earlier this year, NASCAR and Rev Racing hosted tryouts at six universities spanning coast to coast - from Norfolk State University to San Diego State University - as part of a revamped crew member scouting process. Twelve men and six women hailing from 12 states and one U.S. territory are now one step closer to a career in NASCAR and will look to impress during today's four-hour skills competition. There are 35 current and former D4D crew members working in NASCAR, including 23 graduates in the sport's top series - the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In November, Roush Fenway Racing team members Mike Russell and Raphael Diaz became the first D4D graduates to win a national series championship when No. 60 driver Chris Buescher clinched the NASCAR XFINITY Series title. Following today's event, the D4D combine participants will attend the Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 28. NASCAR D4D also offers a driver development program, operated by Rev Racing, and each year fields six drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Successful graduates now competing in a national series include NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson and NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Suárez.(NASCAR)(5-27-2016)
NASCAR Diversity Internship Program Welcomes 2016 Class: Twenty-six of the best and brightest college students from across the country and abroad ventured to Charlotte Motor Speedway this past weekend as the sport introduced the 2016 NASCAR Diversity Internship Program (NDIP) class at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Weekend. The 10-week, paid program exposes multicultural college students to employment opportunities within America's number one motorsport, whether in departments within the sanctioning body or with organizations that NASCAR partners with to enhance the fan experience both on and off the race track. Through an all-inclusive orientation experience, the interns gain a behind-the-scenes look at the business of the sport and insight into prospective careers in motorsports. "The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program has grown to become one of the most popular and attractive internships in sports," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "This program has given talented students an opportunity to gain relevant work experience and opportunities for careers in our industry since 2000."
NDIP continues to grow in popularity year over year. The key to that growth is the ongoing support of industry partners. Companies such as International Speedway Corporation, Roush Fenway Racing, Rev Racing, Daytona International Speedway, Octagon and Taylor have been longstanding supporters of NDIP. Recent partners include Toyota, Switch and Pocono Raceway. These valued partners increase the number of internship opportunities for young talent and contribute to the program's overall success.
Interns will work in multiple departments including in the areas of engineering, finance, marketing, licensing and public relations. In addition to receiving hand-on experience, the interns will also participate in professional development workshops, networking events and volunteer opportunities throughout their internship experience. Victoria Kim, a recent graduate of Penn State, participated in the program last summer. Kim also received the NASCAR Diversity Outstanding Intern Award at the 2016 NASCAR Diversity Awards and was recently hired at NASCAR.
"The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program was an incredible opportunity to get a hands-on, behind-the-scenes look at NASCAR," Kim said. "NDIP was a stepping stone and helped me get to where I am today, a full-time employee in the Daytona office for the Touring Series Racing Operations. I am grateful to have been a part of the NDIP class of 2015 and am thankful for the opportunity to pursue my dreams."
More than 300 interns have participated in the NDIP since its inception, and many secured full-time jobs in motorsports following their internships. Recent graduates have found roles at Phoenix International Raceway, Richard Petty Motorsports, event marketing agency Switch, and many other companies tied to the industry. Several NDIP alumni are now employed at NASCAR within multiple business units, including: Brandon Thompson, director, racing operations; Marvin Aylor Jr., manager, marketing; Lauren Houston, senior account executive, multicultural development; Kathryn Lee, manager, events; Jusan Hamilton, senior account executive, industry operations; Ade Herbert, senior coordinator, social media; Jason Simmons, licensing account coordinator; Victoria Kim, coordinator, touring series operations and Cameron McCarty, pit road technician.
"The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program has proven to be an effective pipeline for hiring top talent across the industry," said Paula Miller, NASCAR senior vice president and chief human resources officer. "We have hired several former interns who are important contributors to the sport's continued growth." The 2016 class participated in NASCAR 101 and received guided tours of the NASCAR Research & Development Center, NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Motor Speedway before watching the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
The class includes the following students from colleges and universities across the country:
Name, Department/Organization, University, Hometown
Central Michigan University
NASCAR Business Development
Sao Paulo, Brazil
NASCAR Public Affairs
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
Indiana University - Maurer School of Law
NASCAR Weekly Touring
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications
University of Southern California
New York, N.Y.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Winston-Salem State University
NASCAR Brand Platforms Marketing
East Tennessee University
NASCAR Green Innovation
University of San Diego
Florida A&M University
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Daytona International Speedway
Full Sail University
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, TX
NASCAR Production Engineering
University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez
Toa Alta, Puerto Rico
NASCAR Creative Design
The Art Institute of Charlotte
Roush Fenway Racing
University of Virginia
The NASCAR Foundation
Fairfax Station, Va.
Rebecca Toro Condori
NASCAR Market Research/Industry Services
Virginia Technical University
NASCAR Human Resources
Armstrong State University
NASCAR Digital Media
North Carolina State University
NASCAR Multicultural Development
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications
North Carolina A&T University
2016 NASCAR NEXT drivers announced: Two are following in the footsteps of their former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving fathers. One is a long-time racer who competed on the reality television show "Survivor," and later added a degree from Stanford University. Another is one of the fastest rising stock car drivers in the Midwest. There is even a pair of international phenoms. From Charlotte to New York City, and from Quebec to Israel, the 11 drivers who were announced as the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class are primed for a successful and impactful future in NASCAR. This is the sixth edition of NASCAR Next, an industry-wide initiative designed to spotlight to best and brightest rising young stars in racing. This year's NASCAR Next class was selected through an evaluation process that included input from industry executives, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Drivers Council and media. Drivers must be between the ages of 15-25, have tangible and expressed goals in eventual competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and demonstrate the potential to realize that goal. The following drivers have been selected to the 2016-17 NASCAR Next class:
Harrison Burton (@HBurtonRacing) - The 15-year-old from Huntersville, North Carolina, is the son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton. He has climbed to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series after setting the record last year as the youngest Division I race winner in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series history.
Collin Cabre (@CollinCabre12) - In his second season driving for Rev Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, the 22-year-old from Tampa, Florida, captured his first career win last October after making the successful move from racing sprint cars.
Spencer Davis (@SpencerDavis_29) - The 17-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia, driver has shown a proficiency in nearly everything he's raced. After winning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award last season in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, Davis has transitioned to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, where he has established himself as a championship contender with top six finishes in his first seven series starts dating back to last season.
Alon Day (@Alon_Day) - One of two international drivers on the list, Day is the first NASCAR Whelen Euro Series driver to earn a NASCAR Next recognition. Day, 24, from Ashdod, Israel, completed his first full season in the Whelen Euro Series as championship runner-up. Including the final two rounds of 2015, Day has won four of the last eight Elite 1 races and is again a threat win the title.
Tyler Dippel (@Tyler_Dippel) - An accomplished dirt racer, the 16-year-old from Wallkill, New York, has already scored his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory in March. Dippel previously competed in the DIRTcar Racing Series in the northeast, earning the rookie of the year title and becoming the youngest race winner in that series.
Todd Gilliland (@ToddGilliland_) - The son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran David Gilliland, the 16-year-old from Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, made NASCAR history by winning his first four career NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts. He became the youngest winner in series history with his victory last fall, and has followed it up with wins in both the K&N Pro Series East and West season openers this year.
Noah Gragson (@NoahGragson) - The 17-year-old from Las Vegas finished second in the championship standings last year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, collecting the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the process. Gragson followed the path set by Kyle and Kurt Busch, learning his trade in the Legends and Bandolero Divisions at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He earned a pair of K&N Pro Series West wins in 2015 and is again a championship contender.
Gary Klutt (@Garyklutt) - The second Canadian to be named to the program and the first full-time driver from the NASCAR Pinty's Series, Klutt represents a crop of young drivers making an impact on Canada's championship stock car series. The 23-year-old from Halton Hills, Ontario, earned his first career pole and win last year en route to being named the Jostens Rookie of the Year. He finished fifth in series points and will be among the title contenders when the series opens later this month.
Julia Landauer (@julialandauer) - Landauer, 24, from New York City, got her start racing a variety of cars - from Formula BMW to Ford Focus Midgets to stock cars. The versatile Landauer was a contestant on the hit reality show 'Survivor' before graduating from Stanford in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Science, Technology, and Society. She became the first female to win a Limited Late Model division championship at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia, last year before graduating to the K&N Pro Series West this season.
Ty Majeski (@TyMajeski) - The 21-year-old from Seymour, Wisconsin, showcased his ability with a dominating display at Florida's New Smyrna Speedway in February, collecting three wins and earning the 2016 Super Late Model championship in the 50th Annual World Series of Stock Car Racing. Majeski added a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model track record and victory in the FrostBuster at Wisconsin's LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in April.
Matt Tifft (@Matt_Tifft) - A development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, the 19-year-old from Hinckley, Ohio, is driving part-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for JGL Racing as well as JGR, and racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Red Horse Racing. He earned his first career pole in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Talladega earlier this month.
Since its inception in 2011, 27 of the 35 drivers who have been selected as part of the program have gone on to compete in one of NASCAR's three national series. Nearly a third of the drivers have made a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, with nine drivers winning a NASCAR national series race. The last two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookies of the Year have been NASCAR Next alum, as are the top two contenders for this year's award: Blaney and Elliott. The last three Sunoco Rookie of the Year winners in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series were also part of the NASCAR Next program.(NASCAR)(5-17-2016)
Addition to the 2016 Kulwicki Driver Development Program Roster: Michael Ostdiek, a promising 18-year-old driver from Lakeville, Minnesota, has been added to the 2016 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) roster. Ostdiek, a freshman at Iowa State University who plans on majoring in engineering or marketing, was ecstatic when he received the news over the weekend."Being named a member of the KDDP team and participating in their program is a dream come true for my team and me personally," said Ostdiek, the former Great North Legends champion, Elko (Minn.) Speedway Driver of the Year and 2015 NASCAR Whelen All American Series Minnesota Rookie of the Year. "I am so excited to get this opportunity and what it means to us will make a major difference in our plans for this season. With the KDDP support, we'll be adding several more races to our schedule this year. "We'll be running all the Big 8 Series races and now we'll be able to add more TUNDRA events and travel to more of the ARCA Midwest Tour races. This will also now allow us to make it over to WIR (Wisconsin International Raceway near Kaukauna, Wisconsin) and compete in the Red, White and Blue Series beginning in June." Ostdiek's insertion into the seven-driver KDDP roster for 2016 came over the weekend when Natalie Decker opted to participate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway. Decker chose to forego her eligibility in the program when presented with the opportunity to compete in one of NASCAR's top three levels of competition. Ostdiek now joins the other six members of the KDDP team (Jeremy Doss, Dave Farrington Jr., Cody Haskins, Quin Houff, Alex Prunty and Brandon Setzer) in the pursuit of the 2016 Kulwicki Cup.(Kulwicki Driver Development Program)(4-5-2016)
2016 Kulwicki Driver Development Program Lineup Announced: Officials of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) announced the seven drivers who will represent the organization during the 2016 racing season. The seven drivers hail from six states spread from coast to coast. They range from 18 to 24 years in age.
The seven drivers, in alphabetical order, are:
NATALIE DECKER, 18, Eagle River, Wis.
A member of the 2015 NASCAR Drive 4 Diversity Development Program, Decker heads back to the Midwest full time in 2016, competing in a super late model and running the entire ARCA Midwest Tour. In 2015, Decker became the first female to podium finish on the ARCA Midwest Tour. She claimed three feature wins at State Park Speedway and outdueled Kulwicki Development Driver Reagan May to pick up the victory in a thrilling photo finish at Golden Sands (Wis.) Speedway.
JEREMY DOSS, 19, Upper Lake, Calif.
Since 2012, Jeremy Doss has won 30 super late model races on the West Coast, including 16 in the Pacific Challenge Series, the most in series history. The son of famed California late model racer Mike Doss, Jeremy will compete for the PCS championship for the first time in 2016, and hit a number of prestigious races throughout the season, including the Montana 200 and the Snowball Derby. Doss finished a strong third in the recent Winter Showdown at Kern County (Calif.) Raceway.
DAVE FARRINGTON, JR, 24, Jay, Maine
The only returning member of the 2015 Kulwicki Driver Development Program, Farrington won the prestigious Coastal 200 at Wiscasset Speedway and scored a number of top-five finishes at his home track, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. The 2014 track (and NASCAR State) champion plans on chasing the championship at Beech Ridge again in 2016, as well as hitting a number of PASS North and ACT Series races. Farrington works at the Bath Iron Works in Maine, and helped build the US Navy's newest destroyer, the USS Zumwalt.
CODY HASKINS, 24, Marietta, Ga.
As the winner of the 2015 Rupert Porter Memorial 100 at Anderson (S.C.)) Speedway, owner-driver Cody Haskins proved he could beat two of the best in late model stock car racing in Lee Pulliam and Anthony Anders. Haskins, a multi-time pro truck winner, will compete for the 2016 NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Championship, racing over 40 times at various tracks in the Southeast.
QUIN HOUFF, 18, Mount Sidney, Va.
As one of the house drivers for Rob Fuller's LFR Chassis team, Quin Houff raced super late models for the first time in 2015, picking up a huge breakthrough victory on the CARS Tour at Tri-County Motor Speedway and finishing fourth in the series points. His 2015 CARS Tour record also boasted five top-five finishes and seven top-10s. Houff plans on competing in races throughout the country in 2016, racing in CARS, PASS, and CRA competition.
ALEX PRUNTY, 23, Lomira, Wis.
A member of the first family of short track racing in Southeast Wisconsin, Alex Prunty follows in the footsteps of his father and uncles and will attempt to take the super late model track championship at Slinger Speedway. Prunty won the late model championship in 2015 and was the SLM Rookie of the Year at Dells Raceway Park. A graduate of Moraine Park Technical College, Prunty will feature sponsorship from his alma mater on his cars this season.
BRANDON SETZER, 22, Newton, N.C.
The son of former NASCAR driver Dennis Setzer, Brandon Setzer took the super late model world by storm in 2015, winning two races and three poles on the CARS Tour and picking up the prestigious Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park. Setzer will chase the CARS Tour again this season, among other big SLM shows, and already has one win to his credit; a PASS South victory at Dillon Motor Speedway in early March.
The 2016 season will mark the second fully-functioning year for the KDDP, which was established in 2014 by the family of late NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki for the purpose of helping worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan's memory and legacy alive.
"I applaud our advisory board for doing another exemplary job in coming up with this great group of drivers," said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. "After reviewing all the applications, they were able to reduce the number down to 17 very worthy simifinalists. Those drivers were extremely impressive during the individual interviews that we held.
"I think that the most important aspect of the process in determining our seven drivers for 2016 came in the final 'open topic' conference calls that our board had," said Roberts. "During those conversations, I think several of the candidates were eliminated by their current plans to compete in racing at a higher level than local and regional touring series type competition.
"I also feel that several semifinalists fell from serious consideration due to the belief that they could not fulfill the criteria of competing in a minimum 15 races during the Kulwicki Cup judging period."
The seven drivers selected today will each receive a one-time stipend of $7,777 to cover operational expenses. The organization will work to provide the drivers assistance in important aspects such as publicity, marketing, sponsorship development and industry networking during the season as they compete for the grand prize "Kulwicki Cup." That award winner will pick up an additional check worth seven times the initial prize ($7,777 x 7 = $54,439) and a special trophy. Seymour, Wisconsin's Ty Majeski was the 2015 Kulwicki Cup winner during last year's inaugural competition. The Kulwicki Cup competition goes from April 1 through Oct. 31. The contest's points system is based on a combination of judging input from members of the advisory board and the drivers' on-track performance. Drivers are given points for both their success in chasing checkered flags and for community engagement, program representation and social media activities.
"We want to thank all the drivers who applied for our 2016 program, praise all of our semifinalists and congratulate these seven special drivers who will represent us this season," Roberts said. "We are eager to get our Kulwicki Cup competition under way and look forward to seeing all seven of our drivers achieve and advance both on and off the track this year." The KDDP urges you to keep up with all of the organization's news and activities by regularly visiting Speed51.com, the official media partner.(KDDP)(3-18-2016)
Semifinalists named for 2016 Kulwicki Driver Development Program: An incredibly impressive number of applicants for the 2016 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) has been reduced to 17 semifinalists, officials of the organization announced. These drivers will now participate in interviews with the program's advisory board members and seven competitors will be chosen from the group to represent the KDDP this season.
The seven selected drivers will each receive a one-time stipend of $7,777 to cover operational expenses. The organization will work to provide the drivers assistance in important aspects such as publicity, marketing, sponsorship development and industry networking during the season as they compete for the "grand prize." The Kulwicki Cup winner will pick up an additional check worth seven times the initial award ($7,777 x 7 = $54,439) and a special trophy. Seymour, Wisconsin's Ty Majeski was the 2015 Kulwicki Cup winner during the inaugural year for the program.
"This is a true statement as to the quality of applicants we received this time around," said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. "Our original goal was to pare the group down to 14 semifinalists, but after multiple votes and tiebreakers the field was narrowed down to 17 drivers. I applaud the tremendous job our board members have done so far in this process. I personally do not have a vote, but I challenged myself to select 14 drivers out of all the applications we received. I could not do it because I honestly felt like there were more than 30 qualified and deserving drivers who applied for our program. Competitors from eight states stretching from Maine to California are represented in the group selected by our board. There is so much depth in talent among these drivers. The group contains accomplished veterans, track champions and several promising young drivers who could be on the cusp of having breakout racing seasons this year. The board will face a monumental task in selecting our seven-member 2016 KDDP class from this group, but we are eager to get that process under way next week."
The 17 KDDP semifinalists for 2016 include, in alphabetical order:
Justin Crider, 19, Statesville, N.C.
2 Top-5s in CARS Tour LMSC series; 2015 Kulwicki Driver Development Program participant
Natalie Decker, 18, Eagle River, Wis., 2015 NASCAR D4D participant
Jeremy Doss, 19, Upper Lake, Calif., 7 super late model victories in 2015
Dave Farrington, Jr., 24, Jay, Maine, 2014 NWAAS Maine State Champion; 2015 Kulwicki Driver Development Program participant
Jared Fryar, 21, Trinity, N.C., 1 SLM victory at Central Texas Speedway in 2015
Garrett Hall, 21, Scarborough, Maine, 2015 runner-up at Beech Ridge (ME) Motor Speedway
Cody Haskins, 24, Marietta, Ga., 2015 Rupert Porter Memorial 100 winner at Anderson (SC) Speedway
Quin Houff, 18, Mount Sidney, Va., 1 CARS Tour Super Late Model feature victory
Jordan Ives, 17, Gladstone, Mich., 3 LM feature wins at Norway (MI) Speedway in 2015
Bobby Kendall, 20, Montello, Wis., 2014 Fast Dash Champion at Dells Raceway Park
Reagan May, 22, DePere, Wis., 6 LM feature wins in 2015; 2015 Kulwicki Driver Development Program participant
Austin Nason, 20, Roscoe, Wis., 8 LM feature wins in 2015; 2015 ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year
Michael Ostdiek, 18, Lakeville, Minn., 2015 NWAAS Minnesota State Rookie of the Year
John Peters, 18, Westbrook, Maine, 1 LM win at Wiscasset (ME) Speedway
Alex Prunty, 23, Lomira, Wis., 2015 Slinger Speedway LM Champion; 2015 Dells Raceway Park SLM Rookie of the Year
Brandon Setzer, 22, Newton, N.C., 2 CARS Tour Super Late Model feature victories
Cole Timm, 17, Mooresville, N.C., 2015 CARS Tour Super Late Model Series Champion
The interviewing process is being scheduled for the next two weeks. After a final vote by the seven-member advisory board, the 2016 KDDP team of seven drivers is expected to be announced on March 11. For additional information on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at www.kulwickiddp.com.(KDDP)(2-21-2016)
Suarez, Roush Fenway Crewmen Earn Diversity Awards: Joe Gibbs Racing driver Daniel Suarez, the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year, was honored Friday as the recipient of the Ignition Award, given annually to a minority or female NASCAR national series driver who demonstrates leadership both on and off the race track while helping to foster diversity in the sport. Suarez received one of eight awards conferred during the ninth annual NASCAR Diversity Awards luncheon at Daytona International Speedway. Two members of Roush Fenway Racing's NASCAR XFINITY Series championship team, Rafael Diaz and Mike Russell, received the crew member award for inspiring awareness of NASCAR through competitive performance and outreach activities.
Other recipients of NASCAR Diversity Awards were: Sirius XM radio personality Claire B. Lang (Industry Ambassador Award); 2014 NASCAR Mexico Series champion Abraham Calderon (Diverse Driver Award); Victoria Kim (Outstanding Intern Award); National Association of Black Journalists (Institution Award); Chevrolet (Partner Award); and Macy Causey (Young Racer Award).(NASCAR Wire Service)(2-20-2016)
NASCAR Drive for Diversity 2016 Drivers announced: After a competitive Combine event last October, six drivers were selected to the 2016 NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) class and will join the industry's premier development program for multicultural and female drivers, and pit crew members. Talented drivers from across the Americas will compete for Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, and attempt to follow in the footsteps of D4D graduates and current NASCAR national series drivers Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Daniel Suárez. The 2016 class will be formally introduced to the industry as part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR Media Tour on Jan. 19.
"NASCAR remains steadfast in its mission to develop multicultural and female athletes and we believe this class has the potential to compete at the highest levels of our sport," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "The talent pool from which these drivers were selected was unprecedented for NASCAR Drive for Diversity - a testament to the program's growth and success."
Rev Racing will field four teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and two in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. The 2016 class is led by returning driver Collin Cabre and newcomer Rubén Garcia Jr., fresh off his NASCAR Mexico Series championship last fall.
The 2016 D4D roster includes:
Collin Cabre: After an impressive first year with D4D in which he won the season finale at Dover International Speedway and finished in the top 10, the 22-year-old from Tampa will again compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Rubén Garcia Jr.: At age 20, the Mexico City native won four races in the NASCAR Mexico Series en route to his first NASCAR championship. He brings his talents to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for his rookie season with Rev Racing.
Jairo Avila: The 20-year-old Colombian-American from Alhambra, California, made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut in 2014 and achieved four top-10 finishes in five starts with his family-run team. He will compete in the K&N Pro Series East.
Ali Kern: The 22-year-old from Fremont, Ohio, had her best NASCAR D4D Combine last year after turning in strong performances in previous combine events. A second-place finisher in the ARCA/CRA Super Series, Kern will compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Enrique Baca: Following an impressive showing at the Combine, Baca, 24, will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Baca is from Monterrey, Mexico, and competed in his native country's Super Copa Telcel series in 2015.
Juan Garcia: Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Garcia, 18, earned the 2015 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award for his competitiveness in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. He will return to the series with Rev Racing following a strong performance at the Combine last fall.
Under Rev Racing owner and CEO Max Siegel's leadership, NASCAR D4D aligns drivers with a team of executives, athletic directors, crew chiefs and mentors tasked with helping drivers achieve career successes; thus, improving their goal of reaching one of NASCAR's three national series. Since it began fielding D4D cars in 2010, Rev Racing has been the most consistent team in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, registering 17 total wins with six different drivers and at least one victory in each season. The 2016 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season opener will take place on Feb. 14 at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where Rev Racing scored a win with Suárez in 2014. In 2015, more than 25 graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program, also run by Rev Racing, pitted for national series teams. Mike Russell, jackman for the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, became the first African-American D4D graduate to win a national series championship.(NASCAR)(1-16-2016)
Rusty Wallace featured speaker at Kulwicki Driver Development Program banquet: NASCAR Champion and Hall-of-Famer Rusty Wallace will serve as the featured speaker at the inaugural Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) banquet on Dec. 14. The first-year organization's celebration event will be held in the Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "We are thrilled to have Rusty as our featured speaker at the inaugural KDDP banquet," said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. "His close friendship with Alan back in the day and his connection with what our program is all about made him such a perfect fit for our occasion. We are so appreciative that he was able to work it into his busy schedule and join us there for our special occasion."
"When I learned all the background about the KDDP and what the organization does for young racers out there, I said I'd be thrilled to be there," said Wallace, who won 55 NASCAR Sprint Cup races and claimed the 1989 premier series points championship during his illustrious racing career. "It will be a fun night at the Speedway Club meeting and chatting with the class of seven drivers who represented the KDDP this season. There's sure to be a lot of old friends in attendance there that night and a lot of old bench-racing stories that will be told. It'll be a real treat to spend time with those young drivers and hear how they did on and off the track out there this season. Alan was a great friend of mine and we grew up in an era where there was so much respect for one another. Guys like Alan, Mark Martin and Dick Trickle - we battled each other like crazy on the short tracks of the Midwest. It was really cool for all of us to be able to grow up through the ranks together like we did. I'm sure I'll be doing a lot of reflecting on that when I speak to them that night."
Wallace's racing career began on the short tracks around his St. Louis home. He won the 1979 USAC Stock Car Series Rookie-of-the-Year. By the early 1980's he was winning races on short tracks all across the nation and surprisingly finished second in his first-ever NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta in 1980 in a car owned by Roger Penske. He adopted a goal-oriented strategy with his racing and successfully focused on winning the 1983 American Speed Association championship. His success on the short tracks opened the door for a full-time Cup ride with Cliff Stewart Racing during the 1984 season. He won the rookie title that year and finished 14th in the final points. Wallace moved on to Blue Max Racing for the 1986 season and won his first Cup race that April in Bristol. The close-knit team achieved the pinnacle of success by winning the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. Wallace teamed up again with Penske beginning in the 1991 season. Driving cars sponsored by the Miller Brewing Co., he recorded an impressive 37 wins before officially retiring at the conclusion of the 2005 season. Appropriately, he was inducted into the 2013 NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Today, Wallace is still involved in the broadcasting end of NASCAR Racing, working with the Motor Racing Network crew. His position in the automotive industry has grown over the years. The Rusty Wallace Automotive Group now consists of six automotive dealerships located throughout Eastern Tennessee representing seven different makes (Buick, Cadillac, Ford, GMC, Honda, Kia and Toyota). An avid golfer, Wallace spends time on the courses near a home he owns in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
"I was blessed to get to work with both Alan and Rusty," Roberts said. "They were cut out of the same mold. Rusty would never boast about it and shuns taking any credit for helping Alan along during his career. But I was there to witness it first-hand. Rusty was directly responsible for Paul Andrews becoming Alan's crew chief and he paved the way for Alan landing the Zerex sponsorship deal back in 1987. I plan on publicly thanking him for that for the first time there that night. It's so appropriate to have Rusty speak at our inaugural banquet. The 14th would have been Alan's 61st birthday and I know he certainly would appreciate Rusty being there. Alan would get a huge kick out of hearing him speak at his birthday party. I can guarantee that it will be a fun and entertaining evening having Rusty as a major part of the program for sure."
The KDDP banquet is set for Dec. 14 (Alan Kulwicki's birthday) in The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event will feature a live online broadcast by Speed51 TV. A limited number of seats are available to the general public by contacting the KDDP via e-mail at email@example.com or by calling (256) 508-2595. For additional information on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at kulwickiddp.com.(TRPR)(11-29-2015)
NASCAR, RISE to promote Diversity: NASCAR announced this week it has partnered with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a recently formed alliance of major sports leagues, associations, media networks and educators created to promote diversity and equality through sports. NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France will help steer the new initiative, established by Miami Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross, as a founding member of the RISE Board of Directors, serving alongside the commissioners of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, and other top sports executives.(NASCAR Wire Service)(11-21-2015)
Ty Majeski claims Kulwicki Cup Champion: Ty Majeski's incredible 2015 racing season will reach a peak on Dec. 14 when he is crowned the inaugural Kulwicki Cup Champion. Majeski and the other six members of the first-ever class of Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) drivers will be honored on that night next month at the organization's banquet in the Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Highlighting the evening's activities will be the presentation of the champion's check for $54,439 and special one-of-a-kind champion's trophy to Majeski.
Majeski earned 150 competition points, the maximum possible, during his spectacular 2015 on-track performance. In his best 15 finishes taken into consideration in the judging process, Majeski scored wins in every race. His off-track representation of the KDDP gained him an additional 60 bonus points. Majeski was lauded by the seven-member advisory board judges for taking the organization's mission to another level when he started his own driver development program for young go-kart drivers.
The Seymour, Wisconsin driver, who is an engineering student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, claimed his second ARCA Midwest Series championship last month. Overall this season, Majeski won 18 of 56 races. He finished in the top-10 in 48 of those features and set fast time in 19 of them. Majeski's 2015 track record showed marked improvement from 2014 when he won five of 35 races, set fast time in nine races and placed in the top-10 23 times.
Steve Apel, the three-time Slinger Speedway track champion and this year's Red, White and Blue Champion at Wisconsin International Raceway, finished as the runner-up in the 2015 Kulwicki Cup competition. The West Bend, Wisconsin driver scored eight victories and another seven top-five finishes in his 15 races considered by the judges. Apel's representation off the track garnered him the most bonus points of any driver (66). He received praise and points for his interaction with fans and his unique race car color schemes.
Apel started his own racing team this year and changed car numbers. He placed a huge retro Alan Kulwicki Racing logo on the roof of his car and ran that scheme as a tribute to the late NASCAR champion. For his final races of the season, Apel ran a new paint scheme - a bright yellow #97 reminiscent of the paint job that Kulwicki ran with Transact Racing in 1982-83. The Monday after Oktoberfest at La Crosse Speedway - after being away from home for 4 days and a full day of work - he towed his #97 over to Thelma Kulwicki's house for her to see it. It's safe to say that Apel's car - painted up just like her stepson's - was the last race car she saw. Mrs. Kulwicki passed away the following evening.
The two frontrunners were followed in the final standings by Reagan May, Cole Williams, Dave Farrington, Jr., Bryce Napier and Justin Crider.
Final Overall Kulwicki Cup Point Standings:
1st - Ty Majeski - 210
2nd - Steve Apel - 188
3rd - Reagan May - 147
4th - Cole Williams - 119
5th - Dave Farrington Jr. - 103
6th - Bryce Napier - 69
7th - Justin Crider - 50
The points were tabulated by the KDDP's unique three-measurement system. The seven-member advisory board was asked to rank the overall job the drivers did on and off the track in representing the organization (from first to seventh). First-place votes are worth 70 points; second gets 60 points; third awards 50; fourth 40 points; fifth 30 points: sixth 20 points and seventh 10 points.
Board members were given 10 "discretionary bonus points" that they could allocate for activities they felt were exceptional in representing the organization. In the final voting, drivers received considerable bonus points for their social media skills, fan interaction and various activities outside the race track. The final aspect of the system awarded the drivers "competition points" for their on-track success. Race wins award 10 points, with 2nd-5th-place finishes getting 6 points, 6th-10th 4 points, 11th-15th 2 points and 15th-plus 1 point.
While Majeski and Apel accounted for 23 victories in 30 races, the other drivers contributed an additional 13 feature wins during the season. The group of seven drivers accumulated an impressive total of 92 top-five finishes during the 2015 judging period that went from April through October.
Final 2015 Competition Points:
1st - Ty Majeski - 150
2nd - Steve Apel - 122
3rd - Reagan May - 114
4th - Cole Williams - 89
5th - Dave Farrington Jr. - 82
6th - Bryce Napier - 40
7th - Justin Crider - 23
"The inaugural season for our organization and the Kulwicki Cup competition has been successful beyond our wildest dreams," said KDDP executive director. "All seven competitors have done a championship-caliber job in representing the KDDP this year and have been just super to work with. I am convinced that Alan would be proud of each of them and I know that Thelma was impressed with them and loved our inaugural KDDP team of drivers. I am so glad that she was able to witness the program she started enjoy such a successful first season.
"The KDDP was established with the mission of assisting seven young drivers to take it to the next level," added Roberts. "When you look back on the season, each of the drivers certainly benefitted from our support and they all progressed in some unique fashion during the year. It will be so much fun to have the group all gather for our banquet next month and celebrate a great inaugural season for our program."
The KDDP banquet is set for Dec. 14 (Alan Kulwicki's birthday) in The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The event will feature a live online broadcast by Speed51 TV. More info at kulwickiddp.com.(KDDP)(11-21-2015)
LFR Driver Development Group formed: LFR Chassis has announced the formation of the LFR Driver Development Group, a company that will provide professional and experienced coaching with state of the art race cars for developing drivers in all late model and modified divisions nationwide. The company's goal is to provide top-level racing experience and equipment to drivers looking to progress through the motorsports ranks. LFR Chassis has quickly made a mark in the short track racing industry by providing top notch equipment along with a racing staff that is unparalleled in the industry.
Four racing veterans will lead the group: Rob Fuller, Tony Eury Jr., Jeff Fultz and Ryan Stone. From Daytona International Speedway to Hickory Motor Speedway, these racing veterans have collectively won more than three dozen championships and over 700 victories at the highest level of motorsports, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to new drivers.
Rob Fuller, owner of LFR Chassis, was born into a racing family, but made a name for himself in NASCAR by winning at the top levels as a driver, engineer, and pit crew member for teams including Penske Racing and Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Fuller's 25 years of racing experience and innovative approach to building racecar chassis led to the creation of LFR Chassis.
Tony Eury Jr. is the competition director at LFR Chassis and brings over 20 years of experience working at the top levels of NASCAR as a crew chief, car chief, mechanic and tire changer. He has lead the top teams in motorsports - including Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports - to numerous wins and championships.
Jeff Fultz has 30 years of experience in racing as a driver, car chief and builder. He has 10 championships to his name and over 250 wins throughout his career. Fultz is a three-time champion and all time wins leader in the NASCAR All Pro Series.
Ryan Stone is a championship winning crew chief in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He has been racing for 18 years and has a decade of experience specifically in modified racing as a driver, car chief and crew chief.
"With the experience level of our coaches and quality of equipment, we are taking a huge variable out of the developmental stages of a driver's progression," said Rob Fuller. "We have all wished at some point of our career to have the best equipment and most knowledgeable crew so we can test our driving ability, and all that is under one roof. We have worked closely with the NASCAR community throughout our 20 plus year careers, and know what it takes to succeed in this ultra-competitive sport."
The LFR Driver Development Group will utilize equipment and racecars from LFR Chassis. These chassis were designed and constructed by some of the best racing minds in the industry. The group will offer several different packages for all experience levels. "What will be great about our program is that we will have entry level to pro level classes available," said Jeff Fultz. "Some drivers might only drive a few races while others will continue through a few seasons. All this depends on the talent level shown throughout the year. We expect this to be a high-profile driver development program within the industry in a short amount of time. We've made heads turn with our progress at LFR Chassis and expect to do the same with this program."
The LFR Driver Development Group will also offer marketing and communications support for this next generation of drivers. Nealie Stufflet, a veteran NASCAR public relations professional, partnered with LFR Chassis in its inception to offer PR, social media and sponsorship services to its customers and will do the same for the development drivers. Interview skills training, media coaching and landscape insight will also be offered. "We created this group to help those looking for the right place to find a combination of unparalleled experience in NASCAR and top level equipment for drivers looking to take their careers to the next level," said Fuller. "We have two drivers signed up as of today and will announce the full team when all seats are occupied." To get in contact with the LFR Driver Development Group, please contact Rob Fuller at firstname.lastname@example.org.(LFR Chassis)(1-3-2015)