Day 1: NASCAR Drive For Diversity Combine Kicks Off At Hampton University
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 21, 2013) – Twenty drivers arrived in Hampton, Va., eager to show off their driving skills at the 2013 Drive For Diversity Combine. First, though, they were put through the paces Monday with the equally important off-track assessments at Hampton University.
This is the third year the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program – created in 2004 and now executed by Rev Racing – has partnered with Hampton. The NASCAR D4D program is designed to identify and train young female and diverse drivers at the grassroots level who demonstrate necessary talent to climb the ranks within the motorsport industries.
The drivers, who represent 12 U.S. states and Mexico and come from a wide array of racing experience, took part in physical training assessment as well as driver evaluation on Rev Racing’s iRacing simulators Monday.
Additionally, the program’s partnership with Hampton will include presentations to the drivers by Dr. David Hunter from the university’s department of kinesiology on Tuesday, and by Dr. Kwame M. Brown on sports psychology Wednesday.
“All of the drivers in this combine are going to come away from this experience better prepared as drivers,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development. “In addition to gaining valuable seat time and direction from some of the leading officials in the sport, they’re also going to better understand the physical training that’s required to be successful in the sport.
“There really are no losers. One group – the group that’s selected – will obviously have an opportunity to race with Rev Racing. Those who aren’t selected will come away from this experience as better drivers.”
The iRacing allowed many of the drivers to get their first look at Langley Speedway, the .4-mile asphalt oval at which they will test Late Model Stock Cars on Tuesday.
Phil Horton, Rev Racing’s Director of Athletic Performance, ran the candidates through a battery of tests in Hampton’s fitness center. Horton, who worked in the NBA before breaking into NASCAR in 1998 as Ernie Irvan’s trainer, has worked with a number of top drivers in the sport over the years. He’s seen the emphasis on physical fitness and conditioning rise in prominence at all levels, to the benefit of the competitors.
“One of the things about being fit as a driver in NASCAR is how it relates to your concentration,” said Horton. “Some drivers like to lift weights. Some drivers like to run marathons. Bottom line, your body has to be fit to carry out the task that you’re trying to be successful at.
“When the cars are 130 degrees and you’re on the last laps, you really need to be able to concentrate on driving and not how you feel, how your body’s reacting and how you’re dehydrated. Physical fitness is one of the most important things you have to be able to concentrate on and win a race.”
The 2013 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine participants include:
Devon Amos, 22 Rio Rancho, N.M.
Annabeth Barnes, 18 Mooresville, N.C.
George Beasley, 21 Las Vegas, Nev.
Nicole Behar, 15 Otis Orchards, Wash.
Ryan Bernal, 19 Hollister, Calif.
Collin Cabre, 19 Thonotosassa, Fla.
Meagan Creech, 20 Ashland, Va.
Claire Decker, 18 Eagle River, Wis.
Paige Decker, 20 Eagle River, Wis.
Natalie Decker, 16 Eagle River, Wis.
Ruben Garcia, Jr., 17 Mexico City, Mexico
Blake Kisner, 18 Chanute, Kan.
Katlynn Leer, 14 St. Moulton, Iowa
Jack Madrid, 18 San Clemente, Calif.
Hannah Newhouse, 16 Twin Falls, Idaho
Sergio Pena, 20 Catharpin, Va.
Dylan Smith, 21 Randolph, Vt.
Kenny Stewart II, 16 Carson, Calif.
Cody Thompson, 20 Fremont, Calif.
Sam Wright, 18 Vancouver, Wash.
An additional eight young drivers will join these 20 drivers on Oct. 23 and compete for the opportunity to drive for Rev Racing during the 2014 Summer Shootout Series in INEX Legends and Bandoleros.
Jairo Avila, 17 Alhambra, Calif.
Austin Geer, 11 Johns Creek, Ga.
Kylin Hammer, 11 Meadowview, Va.
Ryleigh Lemonds, 10 Yorktown, Va.
Enrique Limon, 15 Mexico City, Mexico
Jaiden Reyna, 7 Newport News, Va.
Ashley Rogero, 15 Naples, Fla.
Walter Thomas, 15 Indianapolis, Ind.