Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kyle Petty: 'If the door is open ... it is easier to get here'

   Last Saturday's win by Darrell Wallace Jr. in the NASCAR Truck Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway was important for many reasons, but the most important may yet to be felt.

   Former driver and current Fox Sports 1 analyst Kyle Petty talks about the long-term ramifications of Wallace's victory - the first by an African-American driver in a NASCAR national series race in 50 years.

   "Saturday was a big step for NASCAR, its Drive for Diversity program and the sport in general. No matter how much we want to rewrite history and make it politically correct, NASCAR predominantly was a white, Southern sport for so many years. Only in the last 20 or 25 years has it become more of a national sport," Petty said.

   "The doors don’t seem to have opened as quickly or there haven’t been as many people coming through any open doors. But we’ve been seeing change with Danica Patrick, Johanna Long, Bubba Wallace, engineers and crew members all through the industry. The sport is well on its way to being just a microcosm of any other business.

   "The last barrier to break is the driver barrier. It’s incredibly tough to break that driver barrier because of the sheer numbers. There are 43 Cup drivers, 30 to 40 Nationwide drivers and 30 to 40 Truck drivers. You’re looking at no more than 100 or 125 people, so the numbers are against everyone - not just minorities. But if the door is open and the barrier has been broken, it is easier for people with talent, regardless of race, creed or color, to get here.”

1 comment:

  1. Kyle is assuming Wallace's win will spur a steady growth on interest in racing from demographics that previously have not cared about it - the problem is there has never been any evidence of that even when so-called "barriers" were being "broken" by the likes of Janet Guthrie and Willy T. Ribbs; when they entered Cup they got high-profile coverage and yet it spurred nothing in the way of greater interest in racing; nor have the efforts of Juan Montoya and Danica Patrick done anything but alienate people.

    NASCAR was a white Southern sport for years because that's how it demographically evolved. That it took this long for NASCAR's Drive For Diversity to produce any kind of winner at any upper-level division of NASCAR is not a positive sign, nor is the dearth of "diversity" participation at the sport's lower levels (remember Don Hawk's Mod Tour Chevy with Bruce Driver?).

    Darrell Wallace has proven he can be good and his future may become successful beyond this one win. But it's not a breakthrough for anything but his own racing career.