INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Penske Entertainment’s declaration to hire and develop Black talent speaks to the history of the sport and the places that many in the racing world want to go.
Jimmie McMillian, chief diversity officer for Penske Entertainment Corp., says the history that’s being created is thanks to the triumphs of those in the past.
“We believe that the sport needs diversity and that people need opportunities,” McMillian said. “In about July, our CEO (chief executive officer), Mark Miles, talked to our owner, Roger Penske, about what we could do to get better, and we all collaborated together to come up with our Race for Equality and Change…. When we look at our sport, our sport looks extremely monolithic in terms of race and, even with the strides that we’ve had, in terms of women in the sport, it still is not enough.”
“There’s a rich heritage of racing in Indianapolis with Charlie Wiggins, and there was a color racism association that raised right here in Indianapolis and it was very successful for a long period of time with some of the best racers in the world who are African American came here to participate,” McMillian said. “We all know the story of Willy T. Ribbs and his qualifying him qualify for the Indy 500…. It was a huge, huge personal field of personal achievement and accomplishment. People were there to know that a Black man could go fast enough to qualify for the Indy 500.”
McMillian’s son races with NXG Youth Motorsports which is Penske’s effort to create an intentional pipeline to the racing world. “We usually serve it serve about 166 kids a year. This year, our goal is to service over 300 kids,” McMillian said.
“This is about opportunities. This is about giving people a chance. It’s about sending it sending the signal that we all matter. We all care, and we all have great abilities that we should have an opportunity to display and whenever when our hearts and minds see fit,” McMillian said.
McMillian says he is extremely excited about the new partners for NXG Youth Motorsports.
Also, plans are in the works with the Indiana Black Expo for furthering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education through racing, and furthering the pipeline of accessibility to the industry.