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No word on whether 50 Cent will be doing a collaboration with Jimmie Johnson anytime soon.
As a longtime NASCAR fan, I am actually a bit torn on this sentiment. The fact that NASCAR was born in the American South tends to add a bit of flavor to the sport that isn't found anywhere else. The 65-year history of the sport, steeped in Southern tradition, is much richer than any other sport's history, and as a fan, I love it.
It is that history, full of names like Petty, Allison, Yarborough, Earnhardt, Pearson, Inman, Yunick, Turner and Johnson (Junior, not Jimmie), that speaks to the average American. It speaks to that guy racing Super Stocks at Route 66 Motor Speedway in Amarillo, Texas. It speaks to that guy working at a radiator shop in El Reno, Oklahoma.
But to ensure that NASCAR is around in the years to come, that sport has made tremendous progress in becoming universally accepting and open to all. A growing number of minorities are racing in NASCAR these days, with Drive for Diversity graduates like Kyle Larson (Japanese-American), Darrell Wallace Jr. (African-American) and Paulie Harraka (Syrian). Other minorites include Aric Almirola (Cuban-American) and Marc Davis (African-American).
There is also a growing number of women in the sport, including Oklahoma native Kenzie Ruston,and 2013 Daytona 500 pole-sitter Danica Patrick. Patrick, who is arguably one of the most popular drivers in all of American motorsports, became the first woman to win both a Sprint Cup pole and a Daytona 500 pole when she did so at this year's season opener.
According to Kelly Carter of ESPNW, 8.6 percent of NASCAR fans are African-American, while 8.3 percent are Hispanic. But the number seems to be increasing, and at this year's Daytona 500, names like 50 Cent, T.I. and Bill Bellamy were milling about pit road prior to the start of the race. Meanwhile, recently retired Super Bowl champion Ray Lewis was the honorary starter for the race.
Hispanic comedian George Lopez is also a NASCAR fan. On the 88th episode of The George Lopez Show, Lopez donned a Dale Jarrett jersey, as Jarrett was driving the No. 88 Ford for Robert Yates Racing at the time.
NASCAR will continue to take measures to make the sport more progressive and more encompassing to all, and perhaps, some day, it will be viewed in the same light as the NFL and the MLB.