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NASCAR Opinion Leader Initiative

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This past weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway the NASCAR Diversity Opinion Leader Initiative team continued to show our efforts to introduce the sport of NASCAR to minority groups. A group of over twenty students from different schools received, all-access passes, media credentials and media center admittance. The group included students and representatives from Morehouse College Journalism Students, Atlanta Association of Black Journalists Student Consortium, Clark Atlanta University, Black Sports Online, Honda Generators and Minorities in Sports.

With a very excited, intelligent and active group. The agenda was for the students to explore the sport itself, whether it be through traditional storytelling or NASCAR personal driver stories while recording their at the track experience. The group was met by Atlanta Motor Speedway representatives, NASCAR Diversity team members, VP of Race Operations Jimmy Cassidy and NASCAR driver Salvatore Iovino.

Salvatore Iovino, is a full-time driver in the NASCAR K&N West Pro Series who won the Most Popular Driver award last season for the west. Salvatore Iovino doesn’t belong to a minority group, but was able to answer some very eager questions from students in regards to tradition and his involvement in NASCAR. Group members, Cecelia Townes who is a writer for @GladiatHERS (Live Beyond the Game) Deontay Morris who analyzes (analytics for Vantedge) Nicole Powell (The Sportstyle Writer) and Taunita Stephenson (former Assistant Commissioner of Partnerships for the SIAC). Asked Salvatore Iovino a very common question from fans within NASCAR and from enthusiasts from outside the sport. “What generation racer are you? And how long have you and your family been racing?”

To the groups surprise, Salvatore replied: “This might be of shock, but I don’t belong to a generation of racers within my family, and I have only been stock car racing since the Daytona 500 last season!”

This was an answer that definitely received the groups attention. Salvatore Iovino started racing in 2012 professionally in NHRA drag racing, but didn’t transition over to stock racing until he joined the Patriot Motorsports Group Driver Development program. Salvatore explained: “PMG DD Program is designed to give us, with a passion in motorsports the ability to showcase our talent, develop our driving skills at a cost that is more affordable. We want to show the fans like you, that you don’t need to come from a generation of family racers to be out there racing on the track. Our goal is to help others reach for their dreams, just like someone did for us to be involved in this awesome sport. While at the same time, continue ourselves, to get better and keep advancing to the next level of racing.”

Salvatore Iovino, competed in 7 of the 14 races that were on schedule for the NASCAR K&N Pro West Series and finished 18 overall of 57 drivers. Salvatore, explained prior to moving into the K&N Series he competed in Modified Series, Late-Model Series and spent a great deal of dedicating a large amount of time at the track doing thousands of laps for practicing.

He went on to explain that whether you are new in this sport or have been racing for years, it’s a very challenging sport. Dedication, Hard Work, Will-Power, Responsibility, Communication and promoting a positive image is very critical to your success.

Breaking barriers is hard, but it can be done. I went from hardly being a fan to being addicted to this sport. I invested a large amount of time in research, training, and finding ways to get better. That’s just what you have to do, but I think that holds value in any career path you choose.

The students were thrilled to meet someone out of the ordinary from what their original perspective was and were clearly having a great time as they learn more about the sport and traditions.

The students were able to tour the garages, victory lane and meet VP of Race Operations Jimmy Cassidy where they asked some very intelligent questions and were pleased with Jimmy Cassidy’s answer with future of NASCAR and the introduction to involving more multicultural ethnics into the sport of NASCAR as fans, team owners and drivers.

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