NASCAR is using the power of gaming to make advances in the Black community, striking several new alliances with HBCU schools and groups as one of its latest diversity/equity/inclusion initiatives.
The sanctioning body announced on Wednesday a host of new alliances and programs related to diversity, but among them were relationships with HBCU groups and universities centered around esports. Among them, NASCAR has partnered with the Yard HBCU Esports Alliance to match students from more than 30 HBCU schools to play NASCAR Heat 5 against each other over four events. The events will be played on PlayStation, streamed on Twitch, and NASCAR will award $1,000 to each race winner.
NASCAR is also working on a deal with the Southwestern Athletic Conference for a NASCAR Heat 5 Challenge event later this month that will be streamed on Twitch and have competitors from all 12 SWAC schools. One of its tracks, Richmond Raceway, has also set up a new pilot program with Virginia State University where students from VSU will manage the track’s esports program that includes an iRacing team among other initiatives.
The Yard HBCU Esports Alliance has previously dabbled in sports tournaments with the HBCU Esports Homecoming Classic in December that saw 20 teams playing NBA2K1 and Madden for $5,000 in scholarships and prize money. Rod Chappell serves as GM and Commissioner of the alliance, which counts Gillette as a presenting partner.
NASCAR content team employee Kenneth Lee, a graduate of Tuskegee University, called the action from the first event last week. The next event will take place at Virtual Richmond on Wednesday night.
For NASCAR, the moves are part of its increased attention paid in recent years to both the esports space as well as the the D,E & I space – with the latter being particularly ramped up after America’s social justice movement last summer and after appointing longtime sanctioning body employee Brandon Thompson to the newly created position of vice president of diversity and inclusion.
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