But the biggest debate may be over a name missing from the 25 contenders announced last month: Nascar’s pioneering black driver, Wendell O. Scott.
“Wendell Scott was a hero Nascar didn’t want,” Larry Edsall, the former managing editor of AutoWeek magazine, wrote online.
The omission is also stirring broader discussion of Nascar’s past discrimination and what critics say is its continued record as the nation’s least diverse major sport.
Since Scott broke the racial barrier more than half a century ago, several minority and female drivers have competed in some events. Despite a nine-year diversity program, all but one of the 125 regular drivers in Nascar’s three national racing series are white males. The sole ethnic minority is Juan Pablo Montoya, who is Hispanic.
“It appears that all those splashy press conferences and impassioned speeches on diversity from Nascar officials were just empty platitudes,” wrote Allen Gregory, the racing columnist for The Bristol Herald Courier in Virginia.