NASCAR and Access Communications are seeking to get the case, filed in January 2010, thrown out before it goes to trial. Attorneys for NASCAR and the company argued their side in a summary judgment hearing Wednesday in federal court in Charlotte.
An aspiring stock-car driver is suing NASCAR, claiming he was denied the opportunity to compete in NASCAR’s diversity program because he looks “too Caucasian.”
NASCAR argues that in trying to change the “face” of the sport, it has the right to select drivers for its diversity program based on skin color, attorneys for the sanctioning body and its former diversity program administrators have told a U.S. District court.
Michael Rodriguez, seen in a photo when he was 15, has had a dream of racing in NASCAR at an early age.
Michael Rodriguez, a driver from Pennsylvania, says in his complaint filed in U.S. District Court that he was denied the opportunity to compete in the 2005 and 2006 Drive For Diversity combines.
Rodriguez is suing NASCAR and Access Communications, which operated NASCAR’s diversity program from its inception in 2004 until 2008 and conducted the combines that are designed for teams in NASCAR’s regional series to scout minority drivers.
NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program was created to develop minority drivers and crewmen and help them advance through the NASCAR ranks with the goal of reaching the sport’s top series. Since 2004, the program has included 41 drivers, with most being selected multiple times. There currently are six drivers in the program racing in various NASCAR regional series.