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NASCAR celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month in giving way

By Alexander Gimenez - Sep 26, 2013

With many Hispanics and Latin Americans making an impact in NASCAR today on the track, in the pits and in the front office, NASCAR has announced a partnership with the Hispanic Scholarship Fund to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th- October 15th. 

Through the new partnership, NASCAR will donate $5 for every lap finished by a Hispanic or Latin American driver in a race this month. With eight eligible drives across NASCAR’s three National Series, the campaign promises a considerable contribution to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Funds generated by the drivers will be given to Hispanic students studying science, technology, engineering and math.

In addition to the dollars-per-lap donation program, NASCAR has teamed up with Danny Hastings, a Latino film director, for a short film series highlighting Hispanics and their contributions to the sport. The series focuses on drivers as well as ownership, racing officials, and pit crew members who have made an impact on NASCAR in some way.

In a sport that for many is associated with American pride, Hispanics have recently begun to take on their own presence on the track and in the front office. Of course there are the drivers, guys like Juan Pablo Montoya whose success in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series has helped to establish a serious Hispanic presence in the highest level of NASCAR, and Aric Almirola, a Cuban-American who has become a crucial piece for Richard Petty Motorsports.

But it does not end here, as Hispanics are impacting the sport just as much off of the track as they are on it. Take Chip Ganassi Racing minority owner Felix Sabates as one example. Entering the sport in 1987, Sabates started SABCO Racing which kicked off its history behind the success of Kyle Petty. Later changed to Team SABCO, the team saw many drivers race successfully under its name before Sabates partnered with Ganassi to field an even stronger team.

Another example of Hispanics’ rich future in NASCAR can be found in up-and-coming driver Daniel Suarez. As part of NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next, Suarez has started paving his way towards a fruitful career in the National Series of NASCAR. This year he won his first race in the NASCAR Mexico Series as well as the K&N Pro Series, a regional series for young developing drivers.

Pedro Martinez is yet another Hispanic making an impact in NASCAR. While working in development at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Martinez got his shot at Pit Row when a member of Montoya’s crew was arrested for trafficking marijuana in 2011. Martinez remains in a NASCAR pit crew today.

Sabates, Suarez, and Martinez are all featured in NASCAR/Hastings short films for this month, and can be found at viva.nascar.com

The Hispanic presence in NASCAR is growing, and in the coming years we can expect to hear even more stories about those who are impacting the sport on a daily basis. With a Hispanic fan base that is also on the rise, NASCAR’s celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month acknowledges the importance of the Latino in American racing.

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