Wednesday, April 14, 2021
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Force Indy Aims to get More African Americans In Motorsports
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published December 17, 2020

(left to right) Nadeem Ali, Stuart Kelly, Rod Reid and Derrick Morris. Stuart Kelly and Derrick are both NXG Youth Motorsports Alums (Courtesy photo)

Business leader Rod Reid is using his passion for motorsports and experience with being a road manager to create the Force Indy race team. The team is set to compete in the 2021 Copper Tires USF2000 Championship.

The USF2000 will last from February to August, with competitions in Canada and several states including Florida, Alabama, and Indiana. Force Indy will compete in its’ inaugural race at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 5-7, 2021.

Reid has been around motorsports for many years. Back in 1984, he was manager of Scorpion Racing; the team began racing in Laguna Seca in California.

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“We were running a class that was called SuperVee,” Reid said. “That was an open wheel racing class.”

Reid will make an emphasis on hiring African Americans fore Force Indy as staffers, engineers, mechanics, and drivers. He also wants to help them have a thriving career in Motorsports; Force Indy will also provide a mentorship with Team Penske.

“When the IMS and INDYCAR acquisition happened a year ago, I was pleased to learn of the work Rod Reid was doing,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman Roger Penske said. “Together, we’ll work to not only get this new team off the ground but continue to support it and its mission as it continues down a path to compete at the top level.”

Because of the mentorship, Force Indy will be located in Concord, North Carolina for its’ first season. Team Penske has won 16 NTT INDYCAR SERIES and 18 Indianapolis 500 championships. Reid mentioned how the expertise and help from Team Penske is invaluable.

“To get mentored by the best it’s certainly important,” Reid said. “That’s common in racing … when they build a race team and you try to find folks that can give you support.”

Force Indy will have No. 99 on their car to honor the legacy of Dewey “Rajo Jack” Gatson. Gatson was one of the first African American racers in America, he competed during the 1930s and 1940s. He won several races throughout the west coast.

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In 2003, Gatson was inducted in the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 2007.

In 2000, Reid and his partner Charles Wilson created the Nexgeneracers program which helped teach youth from 11-15 about Indy racing. The program ran under the non-profit organization NXG Youth Motorsports Inc.. Nexgeneracers was created to teach youth how to race and how to advance in a motorsports career.

“We bought go carts and we would provide all the assets, all the equipment that kids would need,” Reid said. “NXG Youth Motorsports has had over 2000 kids in the program in those 14 seasons.”

In a program that consists of five different levels, youth learned life skills and STEM lessons through Nexgeneracers.

“We’ll compare what it’s like to traverse and to try to drive on a road course, compare that to driving in your own life,” Reid said. “We will compare everything from tire pressure to atmospheric pressure in our lives to peer pressure that you may have as a child.”

Youth also learn about financial literacy and how to operate tools. On every class level, the students learn how to drive and they get into competitive racing at the fifth level.

Force Indy is part of the “Race for Equality and Change” initiative that INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have.

“They were gonna put dollars and efforts behind programs like our program,” Reid said. “My biggest concern was it wasn’t a hallow program, that it’s really genuine that they would stand behind it and Roger Penke certainly has done that.”

Categories: News (Sports) | Sports
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