African American-owned Force Indy to compete in USF2000 next season

Indy Black owned team
IndyCar.com
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The Road to Indy ladder system will have an African American-owned USF2000 team with the announcement of Force Indy, which will be led by Black businessman and team owner Rod Reid.

For 30 years, the USF2000 Championship has provided one of the steps to the top rung of IndyCar. In 2021, there will be an increased emphasis on diversity in that program as Force Indy focuses on Black American men and women in all phases of the team from staffers, to mechanics, to drivers.

“I started a race team in 1984, and I have always had a desire to have a team of talented individuals who look like me in the professional ranks of the sport,” Reid said Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway where the team’s car was unveiled. “I have been in and around the sport for 40 years, and this is just the culmination of years of hard work. I simply cannot wait to see this race team on the track this spring.”

To Reid, the initiative comes at the right time.

It is not only about building a winning race team in USF2000 but is focused on helping change the face of the sport during a period that has increased its attention to racial equality and diversity in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

“In May, when so so much pain was in the country, I think all corporations that had any sensitivity to what is going on in our world,” Reid said. “American companies, and I say that very warmly, that American companies all of a sudden opened their eyes and said there is a lot of injustice. This didn’t start happening this year.

“I had the pleasure of sitting down with Mr. Penske early on when he took over the [IndyCar and IMS] property and one of the things we talked about was this whole notion of a lot of African Americans not feeling welcome and he said, ‘Why is that?’

“Part of it is invitation. The whole notion that [African Americans] aren’t really here. And that’s the biggest difference on how it impacts. Now we have strong leadership in corporations, and especially here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, saying we want to make a difference. And not just because it’s the moment. We want to do something that is sustainable.”

Force Indy will receive mentorship from Team Penske, which has won 18 Indianapolis 500s and 16 IndyCar championships during its history. To take advantage of this help, the team will be based out of Concord, North Carolina (near Penske headquarters in Mooresville).

“When the IMS and IndyCar acquisition happened a year ago, I was pleased to learn of the work Rod Reid was doing,” Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chairman Roger Penske said in a release. “To lend our support to an effort like this is a natural. Together, we’ll work to not only to get this new team off the ground but continue to support it and its mission as it continues down a path to compete at the top level.”

MORE: Lewis Hamilton resolute on activism: ‘I won’t give up using this platform’

And while there have been many Black individuals in the garage throughout the sports history, Force Indy identifies a need to improve the sense of inclusion for Black Americans.

The team will compete with the No. 99, which is a tribute to Dewey Gatson who drove a roadster with that number in 1951. Although he was one of the winningest African American driver/mechanics in racing history, he never had an opportunity to race in the Indy 500.

“[Force Indy] is a pipeline, or a fuel line if you will, where we are going to push a lot of energy and a lot of opportunity for a variety of folks who have not gotten that opportunity thus far,” said Jimmie McMillian Chief Diversity Officer of Penske Entertainment. “If you look at the sport, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that despite the efforts of others, the sport still remains largely white.

“Some of the things we heard in the process of trying to evaluate those issues is a lack of applicants – a lack of people who apply for the positions or don’t have the training they need be a part of the team in some way.

“There is also a lack of education. Some of it is because people are not interested in coming to the race because they don’t see anyone who culturally looks like them, so this is going to be a great step to do that merger where the sport is reaching out to the community, but now you’ve given the community a reason to come to the racetrack and root for a team.”

Force Indy will make its debut March 5-7 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Sponsorship and a driver will be announced at a later date.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)