Drive for Diversity
The Drive for Diversity (D4D) program is a development system instituted by the American auto racing league NASCAR. The program's purpose is to attract minority and female individuals to the sport, primarily as drivers, but also including ownership, sponsorship, and crew member roles, and to attract a more diverse audience to the sport.
Before an applicant is accepted into the program, their resumes are checked by NASCAR officials. The system is similar to a driver development program where applicants progress through minor-league and regional racing levels to prepare them for a possible shot at one of NASCAR's three national series.
The program was started during the 2004 season by NASCAR marketing executives in order to attract minority fans and drivers to the historically white and male-dominated sport.
The year before, Joe Gibbs Racing, along with former athletes Reggie White and Magic Johnson, had started a similar program.
Historically, NASCAR and auto racing in general has been dominated by Caucasian male competitors. Several factors have been attributed to the absence of minorities in the sport. One is the costs of auto racing and dependency on sponsorship dollars, with many minority individuals and families lacking the capital to enter the inherently expensive racing world.
Others believe that minority youths are more drawn to conventional "stick-and-ball" sports such as basketball.
A key factor is the overt racism in the country that had plagued other sports as well, but was particularly strong in American stock car racing due to its roots in the South. This included the presence of Confederate flags in the infields of many tracks at both the regional and national levels.
For these reasons, NASCAR has been slower to racially integrate than other major sports in the country. In spite of the lack of minorities and women in the sport, some claim that on paper NASCAR provides a more-balanced playing field than other sports.