TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – This year, staff with the ARCA Menards Racing Series are welcoming fans back in the stands and anticipating one of the most diverse fleets of drivers to ever come to the Glass City.
On May 22nd, fans at Toledo Speedway will be treated to 190 mile-per-hour speeds and drivers from all walks of life. ARCA Communications Manager Charlie Krall says the league is with working in collaboration with NASCAR officials to make the raceway more diverse.
“This sport is a very inclusive sport, we want everybody to love it as much as we do, and that goes to the grandstand side of things too,” says Krall. “We want everyone to feel welcomed here. It doesn’t matter your race, your gender, anybody can do this. And the limit is whatever your dreams are.”
ARCA partners with NASCAR’s Driver Diversity Program, an initiative that recruits, trains, and prepares minority drivers. According to NASCAR’s website: NASCAR Diversity & Inclusion strives to create an inclusive environment in all facets of the NASCAR industry recognizing the value of diversity, which allows us to go faster and farther in our workplaces, at the race track, and in the stands. The program was created in 2004 and has featured current NASCAR Cup Series drivers Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suárez, and Kyle Larson.
ARCA Menards Series racer and multiple race winner Gracie Trotter has been a part of NASCAR’s Driver Diversity Program for the last two years.
“They give drivers the opportunity who can’t race,” says Trotter. “It’s all fully funded by them at NASCAR to support us racing. They’ve made a huge movement in trying to get more females and minorities in the sport, which is awesome. It’s becoming more of a norm and hopefully one day it will be something we don’t even have to talk about.”
Since 2020 Trotter has made a name for herself within ARCA racing. Gracie took home first place at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September, becoming the second-ever female driver to win a race in the ARCA Menards Series West. Trotter says her success has not come easy, battling name-calling, and even being wrecked for being a woman racer. She explains she’s using her place on the track to show through hard work anyone can do what they love most.
“Us as female drivers we have to have really tough skin, we have to look past those things and we just have to say oh I’m going to show them up next time, get that win, and show them I can do it. Several years ago when I was racing Legend cars I had a boy who intentionally wrecked me because he didn’t think I belonged on the track. And there was a little bit of a brawl after the race just arguing about it, but my dad looked at me and was like Gracie you just need to beat him next week. And that’s just what we did.”
Gracie Trotter is joined by several other female drivers including NASCAR’s first Arab-American female driver Toni Breidinger. Currently, ARCA racing also includes drivers from as far as Japan and Australia. ARCA staff explain the sport is evolving and showcasing the talents of a diverse spectrum of individuals, but there is still room to grow.
“I really like what the sport as a whole has done to kind of say we don’t want anybody to feel excluded, we want you to feel included,” says Charlie Krall. “I’m a big believer in that. I think there are some of our drivers who are coming through now who will be around for a very long time. And I do hope they use their voice to speak up for the things they believe in. I think that’s very very important whether it’s here in the ARCA Menards Series or NASCAR as a whole or any sport. When you have a platform, I hope whoever it is that has that platform feels comfortable using it.”
ARCA racers will take the track at Toledo Speedway on May 22nd. Tickets for the ARCA Menards Racing Series in Toledo are on sale now. Action will first return to Toledo Speedway on May 16th with a school bus race featuring 4-time NASCAR Cup Series winner Ken Schrader. Toledo Speedway staff explain they are following state guidelines with social distancing for both races. Tickets for all events are available by phone at 419-727-1100 and at Toledo Speedway’s website.
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