Drive For Diversity Introduces 2009 Driver Lineup

“The Drive for Diversity (D4D) initiative continues to move forward in 2009 with an expanded driver lineup and a new management group. Twelve drivers will participate in the sixth season of Drive for Diversity – four in the NASCAR Camping World Series and eight in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In addition, former Dale Earnhardt Inc. President Max Siegel and his new marketing and entertainment company, 909 Group, will take over day-to-day management of the initiative.

“We are proud of the progress this important initiative and its drivers have made over the past five years,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “The expansion to 12 drivers and 11 teams is a great sign of opportunities that continue to be created for young diverse drivers. We look forward to the leadership of Max Siegel and know he will help bring Drive for Diversity to the next level.”

Entering its sixth season, Drive for Diversity is NASCAR’s leading on-track diversity initiative. The program is designed to give young minority and female drivers opportunities to compete with established NASCAR teams at the grassroots level. Since 2004, 22 drivers have competed in Drive for Diversity, winning 28 races. The 2009 expansion from eight to 12 drivers comes two years after the program expanded to include teams in the NASCAR Camping World Series.

This year’s class represents drivers from across the country. Five drivers will return from 2008 and will be joined by seven new drivers.

Last year, the eight drivers combined for 14 wins, 43 top fives, 90 top 10s and a first-ever championship. Paul Harraka, who will return for his fourth year, earned the title at All-American Speedway in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Harraka will be staying with Bill McAnally Racing this season and will advance to the NASCAR Camping World Series.

Over 200 minority and female drivers applied to be part of the 2009 Drive for Diversity class. Twenty-five of those applicants were invited to tryout at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco last October at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Drivers were selected by their team owners based on their on-track performance and off-track interviews.

The following 12 drivers were selected by their respective team owners to compete in the program in 2009 (Click on each drivers name for a full bio and high-resolution headshot):

• Mackena Bell of Carson City, Nev., will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for Position One Motorsports at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. In 2005, Bell became the youngest driver to win a championship in the 42-year history at Champion Speedway in Carson City.

• Kristin Bumbera of Sealy, Texas, returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for the second season and will race in the NASCAR Camping World Series East for Bobby Hamilton Jr. Racing. Bumbera won two races last year at All American Speedway, is the first female to win a Late Model race at Houston Motorsports Park and the first female to lead the point standings in a Texas Late Model series.

• Michael Cherry of Valrico, Fla., will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for Addis Motorsports at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway. Cherry was rookie of the year in 2008 at Motor Mile Speedway in the Late Model division and finished fourth in the point standings.

• Jonathon Gomez of Twin Falls, Idaho, will race in the NASCAR Camping World Series West for RTD Motorsports. In 2008, Gomez won a championship, rookie of the year title and 13 races at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls.

• Katie Hagar of Nobleboro, Maine returns to the Drive for Diversity program and will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for Golden State Racing at Madera (Calif.) Speedway. Hagar was the first female to win a race at Canaan (N.H.) Fair Speedway.

• Paul Harraka of Fairlawn, N.J., returns to the Drive for Diversity program and will race in the NASCAR Camping World Series West for Bill McAnally Racing. Harraka has 174 career wins, 13 national and six world karting championships and won the 2008 track championship at All American Speedway.

• Laura Hayes of Wilton, Calif., will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for James Racing at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Hayes has amassed 12 national, state and regional karting titles and over 100 wins.

• Juan Pitta of Galt, Calif., will race for Bill McAnally Racing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. Pitta is a seven-time karting champion.

• Megan Reitenour of Miamisburg, Ohio, will race for Leicht Motorsports in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Tri-County Speedway in Hudson, N.C. Reitenour is a three-time Ohio state champion in the Bandolero and Legends series.

• Natalie Sather of Fargo, N.D., will race for Total Velocity Motorsports in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. Sather became the first woman to win a major ASCS trophy in 2007 when she won the Midwest Points Championship.

• Jonathan Smith of Beacon Falls, Conn., returns to the Drive for Diversity program for a third season and will race in the NASCAR Camping World Series East for Fadden Racing, Inc. Last year, Smith finished 19th in the NASCAR Camping World Series East point standings.

• Emily Sue Steck of Holmen, Wis., will race for DMT Motorsports in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem, Wis. Steck received 2007 rookie of the year honors at LaCrosse Fairgrounds along with the most popular driver award. Steck was also awarded the NASCAR Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award. “