Prior to the 2020 NASCAR season kicking off at Daytona International Speedway in mid-February, Ray Black Jr. was scheduled to run the full Xfinity Series season for SS Green Light Racing. Less than one month later, the world was turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This season, Black, 29, has been primarily funded by his family company, CDA (Commercial Diving Academy) Technical Institute. His father, Ray, founded the school in 1995.
CDA Technical Institute, located in Jacksonville, Fla., is the only accredited commercial diving school in the Southeast with on-campus housing and a full meal plan. In order to attend, students need to be at least 18 years old and only need to know how to swim. Upon enrolling in classes, students get a multitude of hours diving and are taught how to maritime weld in the ocean, among other criteria; working on bridges, pipelines, powerplants, etc.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, CDA shut its doors. Since mid-March, its had no students on campus with no income coming in. That’s a problem, especially when sponsoring a racecar.
NASCAR returned to the track this past week at Darlington Raceway, where Black finished 21st in Thursday’s (May 21) Xfinity race. But come Monday evening (May 25), the series’ next event, Garrett Smithley will be piloting the No. 07 Chevrolet, formerly driven by Black.
Ultimately, the pandemic strikes again.
"We were shutdown for three months and that was huge for us," Black recently told Frontstretch. "We had Darlington left on the list. After that, it was figuring out what was next.
"We talked to Bobby for a long time and we all kind of came to the conclusion where we had to focus on our school and getting back up and running, that way we can put the best budget out.
"I felt like I needed to help out because it is my family business. I felt like I needed to put racing to the side for a little bit and go help out. They definitely need me right now and it’s a weird time in the world."
See much more at Frontstretch.com.