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As Floyd Mayweather unveils new team at Daytona 500, a look at diversity in NASCAR

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Denny Hamlin leads in the Daytona 500, 2015. Photo by Nascarking, via Wikimedia Commons.

When NASCAR fans tune into the Daytona 500 on Sunday, they will see a new team on the track. Boxer Floyd Mayweather is unveiling a new NASCAR team — The Money Team Racing — at this year’s race. Mayweather is used to winning in the ring, but the track could be a different story.

“And unlike a lot of other sports, like professional football, the price of entry isn’t nearly as high.”

Lawrence Drake is the Lawrence Drake is the Dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Bethune Cookman University. (photo via: Lawrence Drake)

Lawrence Drake, Dean of the College of Business and Entrepreneurship at Bethune Cookman University, said there’s a lot of opportunity in NASCAR that would incentivize someone to make this move.

“And part of what I think is a much larger familiarity with NASCAR. For example, Emmitt Smith and Michael Jordan have both founded teams. And I think,  this gives Mayweather an opportunity to join the celebrity group of owners,” said Drake. “And unlike a lot of other sports, like professional football, the price of entry isn’t nearly as high. But certainly something that’s needed.”

Mayweather is only the third Black team owner in NASCAR, joining former NFL player Emmitt Smith and former NBA player Michael Jordan. But, Drake said that’s more than other sports.

“They also have the IMF partnership. So, they have a fundamental group of folks who have come together to create different things,” Drake explained. “They already have a track president that is black. So when you look at some things in terms of owners and ownership, they pass both baseball and football.”

Daytona is expecting some 100,000 people to be in town for the race this weekend and even more will be watching from home. Drake said the demographics of the Daytona 500 audience has been changing recently.

“I think there are many more people, particularly of late who are getting more familiar with the sport via social media platforms and television, probably different than what you might see in the stadium itself,” Drake said. “Because I think that is a standard of people who’ve attended the race for many years. That said, I think what you’re starting to see is women, African Americans, and Latinos be attracted to the sport, and are starting to get engaged. And I think in future years, you probably will see the track be much more diverse.”

Not only is the audience changing and evolving, but Drake said the leadership is changing as well. “The track president is black. Also, the chief HR leader for NASCAR is black. And so the France family continues to evolve. I think it’s fabulous that they are doing the things that are necessary. With respect to BCU, we are going to be much more involved at their invitation with NASCAR as we go forward. And so we’re really excited about that, too.”

Drake said the France family, also known as the “first family” of NASCAR, have been donors to BCU for many years. Now, BCU is working on an internship program with NASCAR.

“The other thing that we intend to do, is not just have internships, but actually work on the kinds of things that lead to leadership positions within the NASCAR community,” Drake explained. “NASCAR and I are working on an idea to bring the business of sports, which NASCAR would be a centerpiece of to BCU and to Daytona Beach.”

The Daytona 500 is Sunday February, 20 at 2:30 p.m. at the Daytona International Speedway.

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Talia Blake

About Talia Blake

Morning Edition Host & Reporter

After a brief stint as Morning Edition Producer at The Public’s Radio in in Rhode Island, Talia Blake returned to WMFE, the station that grew her love for public radio. She graduated with a double-major in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology from the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!). While at UCF, she ... Read Full Bio »