If you’ve been hesitant to explore the world of NASCAR because of the stigma that it’s simply not a welcoming space for people of color, we’re happy to report that it’s a new day! For more than a decade, NASCAR has made a concerted effort to get more of us in the game. Not just on the track or in supporting roles centered around the races, but on the corporate side of things as well with careers at all levels of America’s leading motorsport.
We’d like to introduce you to just ten of the many professionals breaking barriers at NASCAR on the daily.
Rajah Caruth (@rajacaruth_)
After drawing attention from the racing world by showcasing his talents via the iRacing simulated racing platform as a teenager in D.C, Rajah Caruth was recruited to compete in the annual combine for NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity program. He was 16 years old. And he hasn’t stopped turning heads in thesport since. With a 2022 season with the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) that saw him emerge as third in overall points standings, Caruth is now living his dream of racing every weekend as a professional driver of the #24 Chevy Silverado for GMS Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
Brehanna Daniels (@brehannadaniels)
Before embarking on her path as the first Black female in a NASCAR Cup Series Pit Crew, Brehanna was a graduate of Norfolk State University, where she had also been a point guard for the school’s basketball team. According to Rev Racing’s Director of Athletic Performance, Phil Horton, her on-court skills made her an instant success as a pit crew trainee in the Drive For Diversity Program. Now she pays it forward by not only breaking down barriers, but also working with the very initiative that trained her and allowed her to make history.
Kenyatta “Kap” Houston (@kaphouston)
With 18 years of experience under his belt, Kap Houston is already a pit crew outlier by virtue of his experience alone. Add to that, the fact that his role as part of the Trackhouse Racing crew extends beyond his primary duties as a tire changer to include capturing content for the crew and Houston standout status is cemented. He’s also been known to release a song or two… with NASCAR-inspired lyrics, of course.
Dion “Rocko” Williams (@rockoslaw)
Nineteen years into his NASCAR career, Rocko Williams is still on a mission to leave the sport better than he found it when he joined his first Daytona 500 pit crew in 2005. A student athlete all through high school and college, he came in the door understanding the importance of teamwork and what it means to compete at the highest levels. Now that he’s retired from the Pit, Rocko Williams works as a National Athletic Recruiter and a Multimedia Broadcast talent for NASCAR, proving that the options are limitless.
Sydnei Fryson (@sydneifryson)
Since her college days at Hampton University, Sydnei Fryson has been passionate about two things: sports and communications. She balanced her work as a sports journalist with internships at Hendrick Motorsports, Rev Racing and NASCAR. Today, she combines what she picked up along the way in her positions as a Marketing and Communications Associate at 23XI Racing. Sydnei Fryson is also the publicist for barrier-breaking NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace.
In addition to managing the Drive For Diversity program ushering in the next wave of NASCAR record breakers, Jusan Hamilton is still actively making history himself. In 2022, he became the first Black race director in the 63-year history of the Daytona 500 in addition to being the youngest person to ever call The Great American Race. Four years prior, he had become the first Black race director in the NASCAR Cup Series at Pocono Raceway. Hamilton is also Managing Director of Competition Operations at NASCAR.
Latasha Causey (@phxracewayprez)
When she stepped into her current position as Track President at Phoenix Raceway, Latasha Causey became the first Black woman in NASCAR history to earn that title and only the second woman to hold the reins at the Phoenix track, home of NASCAR’s Championship race. And she got to do it all in her hometown after an exemplary stint as a founding member of the NASCAR Accelerators host committee, which served as Arizona’s ambassadors for the organization.
Hers might be one of the most inspiring stories in NASCAR’s front office: Amanda Oliver first joined the racing world as an intern during Law School. She maintained her relationships with the company through educational career and eventually landed a position as NASCAR’s attorney. She has been with NASCAR for 17 years and is now an officer of the company and the organization’s General Counsel, overseeing and managing the risk and legal department for NASCAR and its affiliates.
All of the inclusivity and breaking of barriers means nothing if there isn’t a generation of professionals ready to fill those positions when the time comes… or even break new barriers. As Senior Director, Diversity and Inclusion | Community Engagement Chicago Street Course, it’s Caryn Grant’s job to create an inclusive environment in all facets of the NASCAR industry. That means everything from spearheading the organization’s first Pride Month engagement events to developing the NASCAR Campus Lab Program, which will focus on career development opportunities for HBCU students.
If change comes from the top down, then NASCAR’s appointment of John Ferguson as its Chief Human Resources Officer is proof of the company’s commitment to building an increasingly diverse and inclusive team. In his role, Ferguson oversees HR and provides strategic leadership around talent acquisition, employee engagement and culture development. All with the goal of building an inclusive company culture that is empowering, collaborative, innovating and less likely to be skewed by unconscious bias.
This article is brought to you by NASCAR.