Thirteen anxious teens from seven different states and Mexico arrived at South Boston Speedway early Wednesday morning looking to land what they hope will be a life-changing opportunity to pursue a career in racing.
The group of young racers between the ages of 13 and 19 were on the final day of the three-day 2022 Advance Auto Parts Drive for Diversity Combine, all looking for a pick for the 2023 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program.
Nineteen-year-old LaVar Scott, a participant this year in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development program, said the advanced auto parts drive for the Diversity Combine presents an opportunity that could change the trajectory of his life.
“That’s what I had in mind all day,” Scott said before the start of Wednesday’s on-track activities at South Boston Speedway. “This is it. I have to shine. This is big for my racing journey.”
Scott said he could feel the pressure.
“Everyone is so nice about it, and everyone is supportive, but you always know that this is a combination, it’s competition. The pressure comes naturally with that.”
“I want to go racing Late Model and ARCA again next year,” he added. “This program with Rev Racing gives you the opportunity to do great things.”
Katie Hettinger agreed.
“Advanced auto parts drive for combination versatility is important,” said the 15-year-old, who this season became the winner in Hickory (NC) Motor Speedway history. “I really want to race in the ARCA Series next year. Rev Racing has great equipment, and I think that’s where I need to be to be competitive next year. So, there’s a lot of pressure on that combine, but I’m having a lot of fun giving my all.” .
Hettinger raced at South Boston Speedway once earlier this season. Before starting the day’s activities, she indicated that the experience would be beneficial.
“I know that track,” Hettinger noted. I know the line I need to drive. I’ll have to get used to Goodyear tires, but I think we’ll be very durable.”
Sixteen-year-old Jaiden Reyna, one of the young drivers selected to participate in the 2022 Drive for Diversity Driver Development programme, says there is a certain degree of pressure involved in participating in the combine.
“It’s less pressure on them (Rev Racing) and more pressure on yourself because you’re competing against other teammates,” Renna explained. “If you keep calm and focus on yourself, you’ll be fine. I feel like the pressure only comes when you’re trying to compare yourself to others, so just do your best.”
Renna has competed in two NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series events late in the auto division event at South Boston Speedway this season with a best finish of 11th.The tenth. The experience was beneficial as he was looking forward to Wednesday’s activities on the track.
“I feel that from my experience I have a good knowledge of the track,” said Rina. “My first time here was really tough. The next time we came I had a race here under my belt, I rebounded, I did better.”
Five of the 13 participants in Wednesday’s rally at South Boston Speedway are current Rev Racing drivers. This list includes Justin Campbell (17 years old), Andres Perez Delara (17 years old), Rena, Scott and Regina Servent (19 years old).
The drivers list also included first time entrants, Hettinger, Quinn Davis (age 13), Eloy Sebastian Lopez Falcon (17), Caleb Johnson (15), Nathan Lyons (13), Jordan Riddick (17), Paige Rogers (19) and Lucas Vera (15th).
Participants participated in on-track exercises supervised by a panel of evaluators who will select drivers who will be part of the 2023 Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program.
Rev Racing, which is based in Concord, North Carolina and owned by Max Siegel who serves as its CEO, is the driver development arm of the Drive for Diversity program. The goal of each of the Advance Auto Parts Drive for Diversity Combine participants is to follow in the footsteps of former Drive for Diversity alumni such as Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suarez, all of whom are currently competing in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“The combination has been a huge success in our ability to reach a diverse group of drivers,” said Josan Hamilton, NASCAR’s managing director of competition operations. “We develop drivers to come through our pipeline. It is very important to us with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program to not just set an example for drivers in the diverse space, but develop drivers in general.”
The pipeline consists of Legends Cars, Late Model Stocks, ARCA East and then on to ARCA Elite, Hamilton noted.
“The goal is for them to go into the Truck Series or the Xfinity Series, depending on their talent level,” he noted.
When asked about the level of talent of the participants participating in this year’s Advanced Auto Parts campaign for the diversity group, Hamilton said the level of talent varies.
“There are some drivers who would be ready to step in and go straight into Late Model,” said Hamilton. “Others will look into the Legends Cars program. Nobody here who is new will go straight into the ARCA program. This is for the elite drivers who are developing within our program.”
The Advance Auto Parts Drive for Diversity Combine opened Monday (November 14) in Charlotte, North Carolina as participants earned track time at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville, North Carolina in go-karts and received driving instruction from Josh Wise and Scott Speed, They are both trainers for some of the top NASCAR drivers. A welcome reception for participants was held at NASCAR headquarters, also in Charlotte, North Carolina.
On Tuesday (November 15), participants participated in informational and physical activities at the General Motors Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina. The gathering concluded on Wednesday (November 16) with on-track activities at South Boston Speedway.
The latest news and information updates about South Boston Raceway and its events can be found at the South Boston Speedway website, southbostonspeedway.comAnd through the track’s social media channels.
Information may also be obtained by calling Interstate at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours Monday through Friday.