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Youth pipeline aims to boost new African American motorsports team

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Changing the culture of racing is happening in an intentional way throughout Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is home to some of the best stories of innovation, redemption and hope.

From Force Indy to NXG Youth Motorsports Inc., Coach Rod Reid and other changemakers agree the blueprint of those stories within racing is changing.

“Force Indy is a race team competing in open wheel racing just like IndyCar. We compete on what’s called the Road to Indy — that’s the ladder system,” Reid said.

Reid is Force Indy’s team principal. He has helped bring thousands into the world of racing starting with NXG Motorsports Inc.

“NXG Youth motorsports is a nonprofit organization that was set up primarily to introduce young people to motorsports. Our target audience is African American kids ages 11 to 16. We have been doing that for 15 years,” Reid said.

NXG Motorsports is the face of the future of racing culture. It has allowed even more efforts like Force Indy to blossom.

“Force Indy grew out of not just NXG but also some things that I’ve been doing motorsports for a lot of years. I used to be a team manager, back in the ’80s, and had an opportunity with some of the new folks at IMS, and in the Penske Entertainment organization to talk about this challenge of having African Americans in motorsports,” Reid said. “The idea and the notion of running and creating a team that is led by a Black person like myself, and having a focus of bringing in talent from the Black community, was how Force Indy started.”

Creating a pipeline for people of color, especially women, to be prosperous and supported at all levels of motorsports is at the heart of these efforts.

“In the ’80s, there were just a handful of young Black men and women who were racing in the industry,” Reid said. “The sanctioning bodies and folks in and around motorsports were not as receptive to us being there,” Reid said.

In the fall of 2020, Penske Entertainment announced several steps the company was taking related to their ongoing Race for Equality and Change initiative.

The company expanding its relationship with NXG Youth Motorsports Inc. and forming Force Indy are important parts of change.

“I think we’re gonna see that cultural shift, and we’re going to see more people in sport. I think it’s going to have to shift from being again that pay to play to where we, you’re using, and having folks involved because of their talent,” Reid said. “When we think about just our existence here in America, and we think about all of the things that we do to, to have a well-rounded life, you know sports are a part of it.”

Force Indy will compete in the USF2000 Series, which is part of the Road to Indy system that leads to IndyCar scholarship opportunities.

NXG Motorsports will continue to allow access for kids at younger ages.

They both start racing again in a few months.