Connect with us

General

NASCAR Diversity Program and Rev Racing Team Up to Shape Next Generation

Since 2006, the NASCAR Diversity Program has held a popular combine to give the next generation of drivers a shot to race.

Kraig Doremus

Published

on

diversity - NASCAR - Sports Business

Since 2006, the NASCAR Diversity Program has held a combine to give the next generation of drivers a shot to race. The 2018 combine was held at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida in October. (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images via NASCAR).

From helping develop the talent of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stars Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez, and Bubba Wallace Jr., the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program, alongside Rev Racing and owner Max Siegel, is one of the most successful driver combines in the country.

“When the combine began in 2006, there were 14 different organizations across the country that were given a stipend from NASCAR to develop drivers,” said Siegel. “Car owners came from all over the country. I was the president of Dale Earnhardt Inc. at the time, and we participated. Fast forward to now, and I’m in my 11th year managing the program.”

Since Siegel took over managing the program, he’s been able to limit inconsistencies with equipment and improve the process for helping drivers grow.

“We wanted to standardize everything and house it within a race team so that the industry could come and look at the progress of the program and the drivers as well,” said Siegel. “When we began to manage it there were no pit crew members or drivers that had participated on a national level. Every year we’ve seen the competition grow and seen interest in the pit crew program skyrocket.”

READ MORE: How NASCAR Stays Up to Speed in the Ever-Changing Digital Space

Among the drivers that have come through the program are Larson, Suarez and Wallace Jr. Wallace Jr., an African-American, Suarez, a Mexican-born driver, and Larson, who is of Asian descent, all show that NASCAR is committed to the diversity initiative.

Today, the combine has a very refined selection process. Rev Racing promotes the combine heavily at local tracks and via social media, and has even gotten the NASCAR analytics group and iRacing involved.

“We reach out across the entire sport at the local tracks to take recommendations,” said Siegel. “We want to pique the interest of a young demographic through iRacing and get them into our legend cars and weekly late models and then to the K&N Series. There’s a callout and application process, and we’ve had as many as 100 drivers apply. Applicants are evaluated by 20 industry and team executives and that recommendation yielded 12 competing at the combine this past season.”

From October 22-23, the 12 drivers went through intense on-track sessions (at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida) and off-track training, before six are given an opportunity to compete with Rev Racing’s backing – two in K&N Series and four in the Whelen All-American Series.

“We teach our drivers the importance and what it takes to be a great brand ambassador,” said Siegel. “We try to get them involved with a community so that they can have an impact. Our marketing director plays a huge role in helping them develop their own brand identity. We do a lot of content production and messaging, and they also get a lot of media training. We are constantly evaluating their progress.”

Teaching young drivers the importance of being an ambassador for a brand has caught the eye of corporate America, and sponsors now have a chance to be involved with the next generation of up-and-coming drivers.

“Corporate America has understood for many years that as the demographics of the country change and sponsors want to reach different consumers that they’ll use a number of different platforms to do that,” said Siegel. “When the diversity initiative was launched, it was to reach multiple types of people across the country. The sponsors see a chance to engage drivers, especially young ones.”

In addition to the off-track training, the six drivers that are selected to race for the team have to meet certain on-track goals.

Once the season begins, Rev Racing’s leadership is constantly looking at on-track performances and finishes, but they also dive deeper and analyze how well the drivers are communicating with their crew chief, how they are promoting the team and program and how much they’re in the shop working on the car.

WATCH: Inside Toyota’s Massive Daytona Activation

“Mark Green serves as our head of driver development, while coach Phil Horton works on the human performance side of things,” said Siegel. “Our general manager, Jefferson Hodges, reports to me on the drivers’ progress. Based on the progress, we meet with the drivers weekly and monthly and allow them to set goals. With the drivers that have been here for a while, we want them to improve their finishes and have a higher points finish.”

While Siegel wants to see the drivers improve in a variety of areas, he knows that it is also important to set goals for the combine as well. He’s taken into account everything from the team goals, to goals for the combine and the racing industry.

“Rev Racing is focused on growing into Xfinity Series and hopefully Cup Series racing,” said Siegel. “We want to provide as many opportunities as possible for our drivers. Seat time is scarce. Our organization wants to grow, and we want to get young people interested. We want drivers and crew chiefs to have a lifelong connection to the sport. If they’re not driving, we want to see passionate people get involved with the business side of racing, become an executive in the sport or be in the shop working on the car. For me, I want to continue to see the number of participants grow, and I also want the racing fan base to grow and diversify.”

Kraig Doremus is a content writer for Front Office Sports with a focus on NASCAR. He holds a B.S. in Sport Studies from Reinhardt University and is currently pursuing his M.A in Sport Education from Gardner-Webb University. He can be reached at kraig@frntofficesport.com

General

Meet the WNBA’s New Boss

Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert will become the first commissioner of the WNBA and the first woman to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S.

Front Office Sports

Published

on

wnba-comissioner-cathy-engelbert
Photo Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else.

For the first time ever, the WNBA will have a commissioner. Before now, all of the league’s previous leaders like Val Ackerman and Lisa Borders were given the title of president. 

Cathy Engelbert, the current CEO of Deloitte, will take control of the role on July 17th and will report directly to Adam Silver. 

What should you know?

1. By the time she is done at Deloitte, Engelbert will have spent more time at the company (33 years) than the WNBA has been a league (23 years)

2. Engelbert is the first female to lead a Big Four professional services firm in the U.S.

3. She is the fifth person to lead the league after Val Ackerman (1997-2005), Donna Orender (2005-10), Laurel Richie (2011-15) and Lisa Borders (2016-2018)

4. Engelbert has spent the past four years in charge of Deloitte’s U.S. operation.

Basketball is in her blood…

Although she might be an accountant by trade, Engelbert is no stranger to the game of basketball. 

According to Bob Hille of Sporting News, she played at Lehigh for Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw and was a team captain as a senior. Her father Kurt also played and was drafted in 1957 by the Pistons.

What are they saying?

“Cathy is a world-class business leader with a deep connection to women’s basketball, which makes her the ideal person to lead the WNBA into its next phase of growth. The WNBA will benefit significantly from her more than 30 years of business and operational experience including revenue generation, sharp entrepreneurial instincts and proven management abilities.” – Adam Silver on the hiring of Engelbert

“I think that’s probably one of the reasons I was selected for this role, to come in and bring a business plan to build the WNBA into a real business and a thriving business, quite frankly.” – Engelbert to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel

Continue Reading

General

Adam Silver Wants More Gender Diversity

The NBA commissioner states his desire to get more women into the sports industry. The NBA currently has a 31.6 percent ratio of women in team management.

Front Office Sports

Published

on

adam-silver-gender-diversity

Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

If Adam Silver has his way, 50 percent of the new incoming NBA officials will be women.

That number applies to coaches too, Silver said speaking at the Economic Club of Washington.

How do the leagues stack up?

The following numbers, outside of MLB, come from 2018 reports put together by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida. MLB is the first league to have a report done on it this year.

1. NBA – 31.6% of team management are women / 37.2% of team professional admins are women

2. NFL – 22.1% of team senior admins are women / 35% of team professional admins are women

3. MLB – 28.6% of team senior admins are women / 26% of team professional admins are women

4. MLS – 26.5% of team senior admins are women / 31.6% of team professional admins are women

5. WNBA – 48.6% of team VPs and above are women / 58% of team managers to senior directors are women

6. NHL – No report done

Quotes from Silver… 

“It’s an area, frankly, where I’ve acknowledged that I’m not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long. Because it’s an area of the game where physically, certainly, there’s no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing.”

“The goal is going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league. Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

That’s not all Silver wants to see change…

Silver, who has been adamant about getting rid of the one-and-done rule, provided some clarity as to when that might be achieved.

According to the commissioner, the 2022 NBA Draft will likely be the first one since the 2005 NBA Draft to allow high school players to go straight into the league rather than playing a season in college first.

Citing “active discussions” with the NBPA, Silver noted that they are still “a few years away.”

Continue Reading

General

“I Thought This Was a Good Deal”: AAF Vendors Speak Out

Amidst the spring football league’s collapse, countless vendors are still waiting to get paid for services rendered.

Robert Silverman

Published

on

aaf-stiffed-vendors

Ultimately, it was the little things that best told the story of how dire things had gotten for the Alliance of American Football (AAF), an ex-team social media manager said. Starting in Week Five, social media managers no longer traveled with the team for road games. Even before, they’d doubled up on hotel rooms. The final bit of penny-pinching was the most bizarre: For the eighth and final AAF game, social was told Getty’s photographers would not be in attendance. Instead they would have to rely on “generic images,” making the job vastly more difficult.

Less than a week later, on April 2, the chaotic, short-lived lifespan of the spring professional football league, launched in March 2018 by filmmaker Charlie Ebersol, the son of venerated TV producer Dick Ebersol, came to an abrupt end. A little over two weeks after that, the AAF filed for bankruptcy, as first reported by Front Office Sports.

In the aftermath, stories like the social media manager’s have become ubiquitous. A  former player was sent a medical bill for treatment received during training camp. Scores of others reportedly had to cover their own airfare or were sent four-figure bills for hotel rooms. There was the class-action lawsuit filed by two players, claiming that ownership misled them about the league’s long-term fiscal solvency. Founders pointed fingers at one another after the debt-ridden league came crashing down. All manner of now ex-employees, from team officials to players,  learned they were out of a job thanks to social media.

The league’s bankruptcy filing revealed that $48.3 million was still owed to a variety of creditors against a $11.3 million in concrete assets, a scant $536,160.68 of which remained in the league’s bank accounts. Moreover, the AAF informed the thousands of creditors that any attempts to recoup their losses would be pointless right now, because, per Sports Business Journal, its coffers are entirely bare… “If it later appears that assets are available to pay creditors, the clerk will send you another notice telling you that you may file a proof of claim and stating the deadline,” the filing states.

But like the social media manager, many of those selfsame creditors began to suspect the AAF was on rocky financial ground long before the league officially pulled the plug.

Shortly after Tom Dundon, the majority owner of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, who built his financial empire on the backs of subprime auto loans, bought a majority share of the financially-strapped league, he started to cut corners, looking to pare down expenses by any means necessary according to a report by Sports Illustrated. “As soon as Dundon took over, our f——— expense reports were getting approved out of Dallas,” where Dundon Capital Partners’ office is located, a former mid-level AAF employee told the magazine. (Dundon did not respond to multiple requests for comment sent via the Carolina Hurricanes. The form to contact Dundon Capital Partners on their website was removed at some point in the past few months )

With the AAF bleeding millions each and every week it remained in existence, per USA Today, Dundon deemed it necessary to scrimp and save wherever possible including on the margins. So vendors—companies that supplied locker room supplies, traveling equipment and more—were approached hat in hand and offered less than the full amount owed by the AAF.

READ MORE: AAF Files for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 

While AAF officials served as the point of contact, two sources involved with the negotiations told Front Office Sports that the debt-clearing plan was conceived and ordered by Dundon’s financial team. If that meant exploiting AAF officials’ pre-existing relationships with vendors and playing on the faith placed in the league, so be it. As one former AAF official told Front Office Sports, it was “just a shit situation.”

Some of the companies did take the lowball offers, but others refused to accept less, insisting on full payment. It didn’t matter. Both paths led to vendors getting stiffed by the AAF. Dundon’s financial team kept stalling, promising the equivalent of “the check’s in the mail,” right up until the moment when the AAF closed its doors for good.

Now those vendors have been reduced to poring over the bankruptcy filings. They know all too well that, despite being out five or six figures, they’re way at the back of the line, trailing giant conglomerates like MGM and Aramark which are owed millions. And they’re not happy about it.

“I definitely feel scammed,” one vendor said.

(more…)

Continue Reading

Trending