INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Hundreds of new fans were welcomed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday morning. Most of them weren’t old enough to drive, but exposing them to the world of racing is an opportunity many have never experienced.
You can feel the excitement in the air as race day gets closer. Welcoming this diverse pool of students is another way the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is taking on the initiative to Race for Equality and Change. In addition to being exposed to race culture, these kids are meeting top people in the racing world, and entrepreneurs.
In the crowd of hundreds of school children, you’ll find 11-year-old Shannel Faulkner.
“The way they look, it just looks good and they look like they can go really fast,” Faulkner said in reference to the race cars.
Like so many others, this is her first time at the track, so there’s a lot to take in and it’s not just fun for her.
“I’m into cars,” Shannel’s father Elijah said. “We like to go to car events and car shows. I’m in a car club.”
There is a deeper motive behind this field trip. A chance to expose these kids to a new world. A world working to diversify the spectacle of racing.
“Who knows, maybe one of them will want to be a race car driver one day,” Shannel’s mother, Tempestt Matthews, said.
Two years ago, IMS Race for Equality and Change began. This continues the mission. They are welcoming roughly 600 kids to track. Jimmie McMillian is the Chief Diversity Officer.
“Kids can’t be what they can’t see. Exposure is everything. We’re trying to role model and put models, mentors, and people in front of them that they can relate to,” McMillian said.
They are showing the kids top leaders in racing and entrepreneurship, and the range of careers are available here. Adding it doesn’t matter if you are a boy or a girl, the exposure here could be what helps light a spark to help kids change the community.
“And that’s what we’re trying to do. Use this place to say these are all of the things that your education can lead you to,” McMillian said.
While many of these kids may not grasp the bigger picture, that is okay for now.
“The cars are really cool,” Faulkner said.