announced Thursday that NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson will serve
as co-chairman to the newly created Executive Steering Committee for
Johnson serve as an advisor on diversity to NASCAR Chief Operating
Officer George Pyne as well as assist NASCAR in developing marketing
programs that will increase awareness and visibility for the sport
in urban communities.
“There are several reasons why diversity is important,” said Pyne.
“Number one, it's the right thing to do. Number two, we believe that
as NASCAR looks more like America, our sport will continue to grow.
As we outreach to new consumers, everybody in our industry will
benefit. We believe by having people from diverse backgrounds
involved in our sport, our sport will be better.”
Johnson, a 13-year veteran of the NBA as a player for the Los
Angeles Lakers, is CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises, as well as the
head of the Johnson Development Corporation, which has created much
needed jobs and employing local minority contractors and service
vendors. JDC has also formed a 50/50 partnership with Starbucks
Coffee Company to create Urban Coffee Opportunity. Johnson currently
owns 70 Starbucks, all located in ethnically diverse neighborhoods.
“When you think about the NASCAR brand, it resonates everywhere,”
Johnson said. “They have the No. 1 sports brand. I have the No. 1
urban brand. So bringing these two brands together, we hope that we
can reach out to minorities across this country and introduce a
wonderful sport that is already doing very, very, very well, and
hopefully will do well in minority communities.”
Johnson will also assist NASCAR with creating grassroots programs
such as the Drive For Diversity program – a program to seek out
minority and women drivers and crew members to compete in NASCAR
racing. Five drivers and six crew members were chosen following a
competition combine held in January at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway
who will compete in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series and the
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
No timetable has been set on when drivers from the Drive For
Diversity program might move up to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, but
Johnson is confident that day isn’t too far off.
“I think that goal will be achieved one day. Whenever that day
comes, it will be a great day,” Johnson said. “Nobody ever thought,
‘Here comes a Tiger Woods in golf.’ Nobody ever thought that hockey
would ever have a minority. Now they have several minorities. That
just enhances the sport.
“I'm going to work hard with the drivers to make sure that I can
assist in whatever they need me to do to help them. That's what I'm
here to do.”
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