DAYTONA BEACH, FL: Goodyear has officially launched its Goodyear Racing and Diversity Program, an initiative that targets minority teens with opportunities to test drive their career aspirations with a NASCAR experience.
The program serves the dual purpose of making commitments in six markets where NASCAR races take place (Daytona Beach, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, and Dover, DE) and reaching out to groups that aren't conventional NASCAR fans.
Goodyear is the exclusive tire supplier for three of NASCAR's race series.
“Being a partner of NASCAR, if you look at the NASCAR fan base, you don't see a lot of diversity,” said Kris Krienzl, NASCAR marketing manager at Goodyear. “To launch a program and then abandon it later puts a poor taste in everyone's mouth. For us, [the program] is extending the reach of our asset and doing something good for the NASCAR community.”
The program, quietly unveiled in pilot form last year, offers 60 high school juniors and seniors the chance to participate in race weekend internships that can eventually lead to scholarships. For example, two students scheduled to participate on February 16 and 17, Eboni Washington and Rodrigo Bernal, have interests in engineering and broadcast media. Washington was slated to spend time with Goodyear engineers; Bernal with PR pros and ESPN reporters.
“The students come in and don't know a lot [about NASCAR] and it takes a little bit to spark their interest, but they start to make connections,” Krienzl said.
The program is using local organizations and high schools to generate applicants. In order to keep from “going dark” between races, Goodyear is working on an online presence through its Web site and MySpace account. They also hope participants will act as ambassadors for the program, spurring interest through their word-of-mouth.
“The impact that we make across the country could be great,” said Krienzl.