NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — Scattered rain showers may have forced some creative track scheduling Tuesday morning at New Smyrna Speedway, but it was all sunny skies ahead for the 12 NASCAR Drive for Diversity candidates turning laps and turning heads.
The talented group of drivers representing all regions of the country — and even Mexico — took part in Day Two of a three-day combine by running two 10-lap sessions in a late model stock car on Tuesday. They will run additional laps in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series car on Wednesday.
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On Monday, the group met with nearby Bethune-Cookman University students to test their media skills and savvy with live radio interviews and assorted one-on-one in-depth interviews with print reporters.
After some track drying late Tuesday morning , the young drivers were obviously eager to do what they do best — get out and drive cars fast.
“If the weather’s not right, just wait a minute and don’t worry about it,” a smiling Chase Cabre, 19, said, explaining that as a Tampa native he’s used to Florida weather’s unpredictability.
“It’s awesome to be out here. Just watched my brother run some quick laps and hopefully we can back them up. Last year I ran for Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and I feel like we did the right things along the season. But it’s a matter of what happens today and the last couple days and see if we can hopefully come out with a ride at the end.
“This is huge,” he added. “Without Rev Racing I’d be on my couch in Florida. It’s a testament to being out here and to NASCAR for what it’s done. Its Drive for Diversity program has really opened a lot of doors for me and for my family. I’m just excited to be out there.”
The Drive for Diversity Combine invites 12 of the country’s best up-and-coming minority or female racers. This year there were four females, six Hispanics, a Haitian-American and an African-American comprising the group and looking to seize this opportunity.
They include Chase and Collin Cabre, of Tampa; Macy Causey, of Yorktown, Virginia; Madeline Crane, of Meansville, Georgia; Ernie Francis Jr., of Dania, Florida; Ruben Garcia Jr., of Mexico City, Mexico; McKenna Haase, of Carlisle, Iowa; Nicholas Sanchez, of Homestead, Florida; Ryan Vargas, of La Mirada, California; Fabian Welter, of Mexico; Armani Williams, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan; and Brittney Zamora, of Kennewick, Washington.
They range in age from 15-year-old Causey to 23-year-old Collin Cabre.
Out of this dozen, four drivers will be chosen to have full season, fully funded rides for Rev Racing — three of them in the NASCAR K&N Series and another in the Whelen All-American Series. The winners are typically announced in January during NASCAR’s national media tour.
The group is staying nearby, two to a room, and enjoyed dinner Monday night at the Daytona International Speedway offices. They were anticipating a nice Tuesday night meal on the beach.
In addition to meeting new friends and racing executives, the combine is about elevating young careers.
“I think it’s really good to get a new generation in to the sport, especially a more diverse generation and freshen it up a little bit,’’ said Francis Jr., who just captured the 2017 Trans Am Series crown (his third Trans Am title) with two races remaining on the schedule.
“I’m not too comfortable yet,’’ he allowed. “This was my first time in these cars, third time ever on a circle track.
“But the program is nice and it’s cool to meet other drivers around the same age. We are all young and we are all hungry to make it.”