From meeting NASCAR Cup Series drivers Daniel Suárez and Ross Chastain to front-row access for a performance by music superstar Pitbull, local Boys & Girls Clubs of America members received an up-close look at what NASCAR has to offer during the inaugural Busch Light Clash weekend at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
A group of 20 youth from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carson, California, spent Saturday experiencing a behind-the-scenes tour of the NASCAR Cup Series garage, meeting leaders with various roles across the industry and the diverse personalities behind them. In January, the same group of kids visited the Coliseum for a private tour of the construction process after designing their own race tracks as part of a NASCAR-themed digital activity. Saturday’s visit allowed them to view the 0.25-mile finished product with many taking in their very first NASCAR event.
A private meet-and-greet with Trackhouse Racing drivers Suárez and Chastain kicked off the tour, an interactive experience that included a question-and-answer session. The kids inquired about the drivers’ thoughts on racing at the Coliseum for the first time, the science behind being a NASCAR driver and their unique paths into the sport.
Jim Clark, president and CEO of the Atlanta-based Boys & Girls Clubs of America, was also on-hand to walk alongside the kids throughout the learning activation.
“I think what’s really cool about it is these kids were here a month ago to see them building the track out at the Coliseum,” Clark told NASCAR.com. “Now they’re back to see it finished. If you think about what it means for these kids, first of all, most of them have never been to a NASCAR experience or a race. Second of all, it’s everything else that they’re learning. Getting inspired by things like career opportunities.
“It’s not just about being a race-car driver, but also behind the scenes. They could be a technician, they could be in production, or they could be in some other venue or some other part of the operation. Getting exposure to those job opportunities for kids that are this age – teenagers.”
After much anticipation, the kids got to lay eyes on the completed temporary asphalt oval inside the Coliseum. The visit in January allowed the kids to witness the installation of the SAFER barriers and the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) involved in the process.
This time around, their track walk gave them a look at the final preparations made since the last visit, which included painted racing lines on the track, the installation of television cameras to capture the action, as well as track and safety equipment in the infield.
The track walk concluded with another meet-and-greet event with Rev Racing driver Regina Sirvent, a Mexican race-car driver competing in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series. She was able to discuss the barriers she was able to break as a female driver in the sport and her continued path up the ranks.
After checking out the track, the kids then received an interactive tour of the garage area, where Kap Houston, a crew member for Trackhouse Racing, demonstrated his role on the team’s pit crew and answered questions. Mamba Smith, who serves as on-air talent for NASCAR’s digital platforms, also spoke to the kids regarding his path into the sport, which included driving late models and working in the Stewart-Haas Racing shop.
The tour concluded with the kids sitting in the stands to take in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying, which served as their first time seeing the new Next Gen car on the race track.
With 5,000 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country serving more than four million children, Clark wants to ensure all members receive opportunities like the Carson club’s NASCAR experience.
“You think about the Clash, I think it’s cool for anybody,” Clark said. “But for these kids especially, I think it represents something they would never be able to do. Then you pile on top the opportunity to learn about a potential career, this is magnificent and really that’s what our partnership with NASCAR is all about.”