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GREENSBORO (June 19, 2018) – Creating a multicultural environment not only allows people from different ethnic groups, religions and races to share their various experiences and ideas to accomplish a common goal within an organization. It also gives groups of people opportunities they normally would be unaware of.  

Thus, is the case for the NASCAR’s minority career opportunities. North Carolina A&T graduates and former student-athletes are playing a major role in NASCAR’s diversity programs such as Drive for Diversity Driver, Pit Crew Development Program, NASCAR Diversity Internship Program, Opinion Leader Initiative and NASCAR Scholarships.

NASCAR’s diversity programs are designed to attract minorities and females to the sport as drivers, owners, sponsors, crew members and corporate workers with intent to create a more diverse audience. Coach Phil Horton, a 1983 graduate of N.C. A&T heads The Pit Crew Development Program.

It is NASCAR’s newest diversity program as it enters its third year.

Horton received his master’s degree from Michigan State before becoming an athletics trainer at Florida A&M and the University of Memphis. He also worked for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks an athletics trainer and strength and conditioning coach. In 1989, Horton established Athletic Training Concept, Inc. He left the Bucks in 1996 and started working at ATC, Inc., full-time which led him to become the personal trainer for former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvin.

Horton’s clientele expanded to include pit-crew men, as well as eight other NASCAR drivers and 12 racing teams over the span of seven years. In 2016, Horton was hired by Rev Racing to be the pit crew coach for the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Development program during its inaugural year.

NASCAR just completed its latest Pit Crew Combine held at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. Two of Horton’s fellow Aggies, recent graduates Keiston France (2017) and Joshua Patrick (2018), did well at the combine. France, a former men’s tennis player at N.C. A&T, and Patrick, a former football standout for the Aggies, were selected for the Pit Crew Development Program.  

In May, France and Patrick endured a four-hour skills competition to test their fitness and agility. France and Patrick were among a group of 10 competitors who started the day with warm-up drills before taking a physical assessment test that included 100 single-under jump ropes, 25 lateral-cone high knees, five speed-ladder drills, 25 push-ups, 25 ab-mat rollouts and 100 medicine-ball sit-ups. They were then put in a live pit-stop situation where they changed and carried tires in a mock pit-stop set up.

France crushed the competition with the fastest physical-assessment test time (4:17) followed by Patrick in third (5:07). The Aggie pair will start the six-month program in September 2018 and will then receive a pit-crew job with the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

France says he is a long-time NASCAR fan and has always wanted to work on a pit crew. After finding out about the program from his father, France contacted Horton to get more information. France was eventually informed of his selection to the combine.  

 “I was elated when I received the call inviting me to the combine,” said France, who is training to be a tire changer. “Working for a pit crew has been a dream of mine since middle school.”

Patrick learned of the program through a friend and former teammate Courtney Edmonds who learned about the program from another former Aggie football player, Corbin Martin. Patrick also contacted Horton and received a call two weeks later that he had been selected to train as a tire carrier.

“My experience so far has been very eye-opening to see the different possibilities for African-Americans in the sport of NASCAR,” said Patrick. “I never really thought I would be in this position, but I am enjoying myself and hopefully in the near future, I can make some big things happen in the sport.”

Edmonds and Martin did not go through the Pit Crew Combine or development program but were hired by Richard Childress Racing’s Diversity Development Program in Welcome, N.C. Edmonds is looking to get into the 2019 Pit Crew Combine and hopes to be selected to the development program.

Another Aggie, former women’s basketball player Whitney Martin, has also worked with NASCAR. In the summer of her junior year, Martin used the Diversity Internship Program to work at NASCAR’s corporate office in Daytona Beach, Fla. Martin met an array of people who helped her throughout the internship. She graduated in ’17 and interned at Integrated Marketing Communications before landing a job with the company where she works as their senior coordinator in racing communications.

“At the time I was searching for an internship and as an athlete, I knew I wanted to be involved with sports,” said Martin. “I didn’t know what to expect because this was my first NASCAR experience, but I could not have asked for a better internship.”

And she could not have asked for a better opportunity thanks to the willingness of a company to promote diversity.