Following a national talent search at universities across the country, NASCAR and Rev Racing have invited 12 collegiate athletes to compete for roles as tire changers, carriers and jackmen at the fourth annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity National Pit Crew Combine in Concord, N.C., on Friday, May 24.
The annual event will be held at the NASCAR Research and Development Center and features athletes from colleges and universities across the nation with aspirations of a professional career in NASCAR. This year’s competitors include football, soccer and baseball student-athletes.
Led by Phil Horton, Rev Racing director of athletic performance, the four-hour combine will test the athletes in a series of strength, agility and flexibility exercises to assess their fitness for a NASCAR pit crew. Additionally, each athlete will learn how to perform tasks required of over-the-wall crew members.
“We’re excited to witness the impact this year’s competitors bring to NASCAR and the overall pit crew development program,” said Jusan Hamilton, NASCAR director of racing operations and event management. “Each athlete possesses something special and has demonstrated the potential to work in a fast-paced, highly competitive environment. Rev Racing’s recruiting efforts have identified some phenomenal athletes who can translate what they’ve accomplished in their respective sports to success on pit road. We look forward to training those selected to the program and positioning them for successful NASCAR careers.”
Top performing athletes will earn a spot in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development program where they will spend six months training as pit crew members at Rev Racing, with hopes of one day pitting for a national series team.
“We couldn’t be prouder of the journey both our pit crew development program and program graduates have taken from its inception,” said Max Siegel, owner and CEO of Rev Racing. “With the expansion of our recruiting efforts across the country, the talent level rises, and our program continues to evolve and create more opportunities for advancement at a higher level. We’re energized by the opportunity to work with these talented athletes and foresee a very impactful future on pit road for those selected to participate in our program.”
Since the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program began, more than 100 athletes have participated, and 65 graduates are now working in NASCAR. Thirty-five crew members have reached and competed in the sport’s national series, including the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™.
Program alums include Raphael Diaz, rear tire changer for Roush Fenway Racing, and Jordan Paige, now a jackman for Richard Childress Racing. Earlier this season, Breanna O’Leary and Brehanna Daniels became the first female graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program to go over the wall in the DAYTONA 500. Both women participated in the 2016 pit crew combine and now pit regularly across the national series.
As part of the recruiting process, NASCAR and Rev Racing traveled to host student-athlete workouts at Alabama A&M University, Alcorn State University, Arizona State University, Coppin State University, Virginia State University and the University of Miami.
This year’s combine will feature Dalanda Ouendeno from Paris, France, a former University of Miami women’s soccer player. Ouendeno played for the Paris St. Germain soccer club from 2009 to 2015, won the Gothia Youth World Cup and the IberCup Portugal, and was part of five Isles of France championship teams.
Dasmond Tautalatasi will join the pit crew combine from Arizona State where he played safety for the Sun Devils football team. Hadji Gaylord, an undefeated high school wrestler and defensive lineman at Norfolk State University, returns for his second combine with hopes of earning a spot in the development program.
The 2019 NASCAR Drive for Diversity National Pit Crew Combine participants include:
|Leishaun Ealey||Jacksonville, Fla.||Alcorn State University||Football|
|Hadji Gaylord||Norfolk, Va.||Norfolk State University||Football|
|Robin Loza||Charlotte, N.C.||Central Piedmont Community College||Football|
|Terry McCray||Pompano Beach, Fla.||University of Miami||Football|
|Dalanda Ouendeno||Paris, France||University of Miami||Soccer|
|Deonte Parker||Huntsville, Ala.||Alabama A&M University||Baseball|
|Mequel Phillips||Chester, Va.||Virginia State University||Football|
|Josh Pokraka||Honolulu, Hawaii||Arizona State University||Football|
|Raynard Revels||Richmond, Va.||Norfolk State University||Football|
|Matthew Sawyer||Baltimore, Md.||Coppin State University||Football|
|Dasmond Tautalatasi||Concord, Calif.||Arizona State University||Football|
|Alvin Wilson||Lexington, Miss.||Alcorn State University||Football|
Following Friday’s event, the pit crew combine participants will attend the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 on Saturday, May 25 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Drive for Diversity also offers a driver development program, operated by Rev Racing, and fields vehicles for six drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, as well as legend cars for four youth racers in the US Legend Car Series. Successful graduates now competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series include drivers Kyle Larson, Daniel Suárez and Bubba Wallace.
— NASCAR —