INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Force Indy’s African-American led racing team is climbing up the ranks. They are one race class away from joining the elite Indy Car series as a new driver takes the seat it’s a new step in the IMS’ initiative: Race for Equity and Change.
Force Indy won its first season with Myles Rowe last year. Although they are expanding in diversity, they say they want to be competitive and win, understanding that this is a moment in history that could inspire other Black and brown drivers.
“This is probably one of the biggest steps I’ve taken in my career,” said principal driver Ernie Francis Jr.
This marks the unveiling of a new era of racing for Force Indy’s African-American led team. Francis Jr. will take his spot in the driver’s seat. The team will jump from USF2000 series to Indy Lights.
“If you told me a year ago that I’d be racing in the Indy light series I would have never believed you,” Francis said.
Force Indy launched in December 2020 as part of IndyCar Series’ efforts to improve diversity in sports. They committed to hiring and developing Black mechanics, engineers, staff and drivers. The team ended its first run on top.
“Being from a Haitian American background I look different from many of the other drivers out there and I noticed that when I go to the race track kids will naturally want to come talk to me,” Francis said.
Francis is a key figure, but so is coach Rod Reid. He guided the team last season and says this step in racing is an important one not just because it could lead to the Indianapolis 500 one day, but also for expanding diversity and victory.
“That we have to perform well anyway. We want to win races. I want everyone to understand that as we sit and talk about programs for diversity and inclusion that’s a goal but that’s right along with us performing well and winning races,” Reid said.
Force Indy makes its Indy Light debut at the end of February, the team is geared up to go.
Francis said, “I understand that the younger generation looks up to me as a driver and I’m ready for that and looking forward to that.”