At the 2013 edition of Daytona 500, NASCAR invited Ray Lewis, 50 Cent, and T.I. to the iconic event. Lewis waved the green flag to start the race while 50 Cent and T.I. were in attendance. The Daytona 500 is one of the biggest races of the year for NASCAR which is why it was the perfect opportunity to try and diversify the celebrity attendees.
I’m sure NASCAR invited these three African American celebrities with the intentions of showing everyone that different racial and ethnic groups enjoy NASCAR. Unfortunately for NASCAR, 50 Cent shared a tweet with his nearly eight million followers shortly after arriving at Daytona International Speedway that read “Damn, I don’t see no black people lol.” Although 50 Cent’s tweet was likely accurate, it’s also the precise image NASCAR wants to ditch. But how hard are they actually trying to add more diversity to the sport?
NASCAR has actually taken some steps in an attempt to expand their fan base. They have set up outreach programs and taken cars to areas with more diverse populations. They also sponsor a minority driver program. And here is their Mission Statement from nascardiversity.com. To engage women and people of diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds in all facets of the NASCAR industry. Danica Patrick has sure helped NASCAR out with the women part of that Mission Statement.
Even with these steps NASCAR, fans are still allowed to display their Confederate flags flapping in the wind in the infield of Daytona. To some, this is no big deal but to many, the Confederate flag signals a negative message. If you were a PR practitioner working with NASCAR, what would you advise?