IndyCar owner Penske Entertainment has announced significant steps in its Race for Equality & Change initiative to improve diversity within the series and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
These include a major expansion of its relationship with NXG Youth Motorsports (NXG), a non-profit organisation that introduces minority students to motorsport, and the appointment of a chief diversity officer.
Since its inception in 2006, NXG has introduced more than 1,000 boys and girls ages 11 to 16 to the educational benefits that can be derived from performance driving.
It uses racing as a training tool for life-skill development, engaging participants in classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction.
Participants are introduced to motorsports career opportunities such as engineering, marketing, management, food service, and health and fitness.
"NXG uses the world of motorsports to provide students access to STEM curriculum, career pathways and valuable life lessons," said Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles.
"We're thrilled to partner with Coach Rod Reid to support his tremendous work and the expansion of his program."
Penske Entertainment, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar, has teamed up with several corporate partners to provide increased funding and resources to NXG.
More than half a million dollars in funds and in-kind contributions have been raised, with key donations coming from program title sponsor Lucas Oil, Penske Entertainment, LifeSecure Insurance Company and Snap-on.
NXG will also be provided a permanent garage at IMS with brand-new tools from Snap-on.
The increased funding and infrastructure further the program in several important ways, including allowing for a year-long curriculum, increasing the number of students participating and enhancing the depth and quality of student experience.
"The support from partners new and long-term, including LifeSecure Insurance, Snap-on, Penske Entertainment Corp. and Lucas Oil, will help us build upon the strong foundation we've established," said Coach Reid.
"Ultimately, we'll be able to ensure more students have access to opportunities that teach vital life and career skills on a year-long basis."
In addition, Jimmie McMillian was named chief diversity officer for Penske Entertainment Corp.
McMillian has been Senior Corporate Counsel for IMS and IndyCar since 2016 and is nationally recognized as a strong and consistent voice for diversity in the legal profession.
He is charged with leading the ongoing implementation of vital Race for Equality & Change pillars.
"Jimmie is an impactful leader and a strong voice for inclusivity and diversity," Miles said.
"His experience, perspectives and community relationships will be a tremendous asset in this role. We're grateful to have him guiding this significant and important effort for us."
Race for Equality & Change was unveiled during this year's Brickyard 400 weekend and represents a major effort to support diversity and inclusivity across the IndyCar industry.
It aims to recruit and develop a diverse workforce throughout all levels of IndyCar and IMS, with the goal of diversifying the competitive driver field at the grassroots, Road to Indy and IndyCar levels.
Further goals include supporting impactful grassroots youth motorsports programs, like NXG, diversifying employment, leadership and ownership within Indycar and its promoters.
There are also plans for investment in minority communities to encourage greater engagement with IndyCar, and to establish a procurement program to meaningfully increase the number of minority-owned businesses that contract with IndyCar and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway each year
"I'm honored to take on this role and ready to help fuel change and inclusivity in our sport," McMillian said.
"Penske Entertainment Corp. is committed to making a difference, and today's announcements are just the beginning of the important work and progress to come."