Monday, April 29, 2013

NASCAR: "We want our athletes and our sport to look like America."

   NBA veteran Jason Collins has come out as first openly gay male athlete player still active in a major American professional sport. Other gay athletes, including former NBA center John Amaechi, have waited until retirement to divulge their sexuality publicly.

   Collins has received mostly positive reaction, from teammates, friends and even former President Bill Clinton.

   Collins' decision sparked discussion on Monday to whether participants in other sports - or the sanctioning bodies themselves - would react in a similar fashion is faced with the same issue.

   NASCAR was asked to provide a statement in that regard. Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR Vice President of Public Affairs and Multicultural Development, responded:

   "NASCAR is a recognized leader in diversity and inclusion initiatives in professional sports and home to the best drivers in the world. We want our athletes and our sport to look like America, and exclusion or intolerance of any kind - whether behind the wheel, on pit road or in the garage - is not a part of that formula."

   In addition, in a published interview last month, reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski said what matters in NASCAR is if someone can win.
    When asked if an openly gay driver would have more trouble earning acceptance from the fans or their fellow drivers, Keselowski said, "I can't speak for the fans, I can only speak for myself, but in this garage, if you can win, people will want to be a part of what you can do."

Charlotte Motor Speedway launches its version of "American Idol"


  Fans across the Carolinas should start practicing their rendition of the national anthem or “God Bless America” because this May the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Speedway Superstar Tour” presented by Coca-Cola is looking for performers to headline at the 10 Greatest Days in Racing.

    The Speedway Superstar Tour presented by Coca-Cola is open for talented performers to try out May 1 through 15 at a mobile audition studio, as it visits 10 cities throughout North and South Carolina. For the audition, contestants (ages 18 or older) will be allowed to perform an a cappella rendition (without music or instrumental accompaniment) of either the national anthem of the United States or “God Bless America.” Performances will be limited to 60 seconds and videotaped for use on a contest voting website.

“We have thousands of talented race fans and want to get them more involved in being part of the 10 Greatest Days in Racing,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We look forward to seeing some great performances around the Carolinas and then having our winners perform at Charlotte Motor Speedway during our spectacular pre-race activities.”

Fans will have an opportunity to vote on their favorite performances from May 1 through May 22 online. For official rules and details, go here.
Five winners will be selected to perform at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the 10 Greatest Days of Racing, including “God Bless America” at the N.C. Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race; “God Bless America” at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race; the national anthem or “God Bless America” at the HISTORY 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race; or “God Bless America” at the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. All winners will also receive two tickets to the race at which they perform.

The Speedway Superstar Tour kicks off on May 1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and will then travel to Pineville, N.C. that day. The tour will visit Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., on May 2; Columbia, S.C., on May 3; Myrtle Beach, S.C., on May 5; Wilmington, N.C., on May 6; Fayetteville, N.C., on May 7; Raleigh, N.C., on May 9; Durham, N.C., on May 10; Greensboro, N.C., on May 11; Winston-Salem, N.C., on May 13; and return to Charlotte on May 14 and 15.