Through its diversity program, NASCAR’s College Tour is reaching out to include female and minority students.


 


 

NASCAR wasn’t just about what happened on the track at Dover International Speedway this week.

The NASCAR College Tour hit Delaware State University as well and featured trivia games Sept. 24 and a panel discussion Sept. 25 about the sports’ various internships for diverse students.

Former intern Arionne Allen told about 25 DSU students she hadn’t been interested in NASCAR before being accepted the program in Daytona Beach.

“After the first race, I was hooked and couldn’t wait for the next race,” said Allen, who graduated from Hampton University in 2008 and then earned a master’s degree from Indiana University.

She urged the students to find the initiative to apply to programs to gain work experience and contacts that would aid in finding a post-graduation job.

“Even though it was summer and I wanted to go to the beach and have fun, I had to have the priority to do my work first,” Allen said.

For the past 10 years, NASCAR has run a diversity internship program that provides undergraduate and graduate students with the chance to work in a variety of the company’s divisions, such as broadcasting, licensing or marketing.

Applications are available in November on the program’s website, www.diversityinternships.com, and Brandon Thompson, senior account executive for Diversity Affairs in Daytona Beach, said students can help their resume stand out by providing a one-page summary that shows some previous work experience and extra-curricular activities.

DSU students also asked extensive questions about NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which is a development program for female and minority drivers and pit crewmembers.

Kristal Shipp, manager of NASCAR’s West Coast media outreach, said the program places students in some of NASCAR’s leagues that are below the well-known Sprint Cup.

Competitive experience can help a driver’s resume stand out, Shipp said, to which one DSU student said he had raced go-karts as a kid, which made some of the other students laugh.

But Shipp said racing go-karts often is a driver’s introduction to the sport and helps them gain some of the basic maneuvering skills.

 NASCAR has parallels to other sports including having minor leagues and athletes that range from rookies to returning from retirement.

“Just keep an open mind and be ready to embrace something new,” Shipp said.

NASCAR’s College Tour has been visiting historically black colleges for nine years and went to Virginia State University last week. About 30 students also were given tickets to Saturday’s race as part of the program.

Email Elaine Hughes at elaine.hughes@doverpost.com