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Posted by: City Buzz Motor Sports on 06/22/2017

Clergy To Help Organize Class Action Lawsuit Against NASCAR and INDYCAR Sponsors and Partners - NASCAR’s $500 Million Discrimination Lawsuit Allows For More Discriminant Dominoes To Fall

Clergy To Help Organize Class Action Lawsuit Against NASCAR and INDYCAR Sponsors and Partners - NASCAR’s $500 Million Discrimination Lawsuit Allows For More Discriminant Dominoes To Fall Los Angeles, California - June 22, 2017  

In 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong uttered one of the most famous one-liners known around the world when he stepped onto the moon’s surface.

“That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”

This global iconic statement seems incredibly apropos given the fact Terrance Alton Cox III and the Clergy For Minority Youth Matters Movement are aspiring to eradicate the systematic discrimination and alienation, that permeates the motorsports industry still today, towards African Americans through a federal discrimination lawsuit and a class action lawsuit respectively.

But before we examine the discriminant atrocities associated within motorsports, let us take a moment to appreciate what transpired with NASA, and our space program, to even allow for the historic moon walk of 1969.

NASA had a team of human “computers” who calculated (by hand) the complex equations necessary for our astronauts to have safe travel.

Unbeknownst to the American public, among NASA’s human “computers” were three African American females named Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.

As you can imagine, these three African American “computers” did the exact same work as their white-counterparts, but were paid less and relegated to segregated dining and bathroom facilities.

But at the end of the day, these three African American pioneers were given an opportunity to work for NASA’s space program.

Their true-story is phenomenal, and CityBuzzLocal.com recommends renting the movie “Hidden Figures”.

Katherine Johnson stood out among the three.

To fast forward Ms. Johnson’s career highlights, she was a child prodigy who graduated high school at 14, and the historically black West Virginia State University at 18. In 1961 she was tasked with computing trajectories for Alan Shepard’s historic space flight.

However, in 1962, astronaut John Glenn was set to become the first American to orbit the earth. Ms. Johnson was tasked with double-checking and reverse engineering the newly installed IBM7090s computer trajectory calculations for John Glenn’s space flight.

It is characterized in the movie (Hidden Figures) that John Glenn did not completely trust the computer. He informed NASA’s head engineers to have Ms. Johnson go over the numbers, and if she says they’re good...then I am ready to go.

Ms. Johnson worked on the Apollo program that included performing trajectory calculations that assisted the 1969 moon landing.

We brought up the names of these three women and their willingness to endure adversity, because if it were not for NASA having the foresight to see through their once discriminant lens and change their workplace policies, Neil Armstrong may never have made it to the moon - let alone, uttered those iconic words.

So back to the discriminant motorsports industry.

On December 14, 2016, Terrance Alton Cox III filed a $500 million federal discrimination lawsuit (3:16-cv-00843) against NASCAR in the Western District Court of North Carolina. This $500 million federal discrimination case was not dismissed by Federal Judge Frank Whitney, and it is presently awaiting a federally mandated court date.

One could liken Mr. Cox’s sole effort to eradicate the systemic discriminating culture within NASCAR as “that’s one small step for (a) man...”.

What is most intriguing now is the position the Clergy For Minority Youth Matters Movement is taking as the lead organizer for a class action lawsuit against all corporate sponsors and corporate partners associated with NASCAR and INDYCAR.

To provide context.

INDYCAR is a motorsport sanctioning body, governing open wheel racing, having gone through many name iterations in its time, is owned by Hulman & Company, who owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was bought by Anton “Tony” Hulman, Jr. in 1945.

NASCAR is a motorsport sanctioning body, governing stock car racing, founded in the deep south by William H. France in 1948.

Just seeing these two dates, 1945 and 1948, and knowing the geographical locations of where these motorsport entities were conceived, the deep south and midwest parts of the country, it is easy to surmise discrimination loomed within these organizations from the outset of their existence.

So understand this, it is not the “when and where” these two organizations were conceived that is the present issue.

It is the mere fact that in the year 2017, 72 years and 69 years respectively since these two families, Hulman/George (INDYCAR) and France (NASCAR), became the two leading organizations of North American motorsports that they incomprehensibly look the exact same from their early beginnings. 

How so you might wonder?

Let’s examine Hulman & Company’s historic discriminant exploits towards women and African Americans with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR since 1945.

Side-note, the first Indianapolis 500 took place in 1911, won by Ray Harroun. However, women and African Americans were very much discriminated against even before the Speedway was purchased by Tony Hulman in 1945 for $1 million dollars.

Women were virtually non-existent fixtures within the pit area of Indianapolis, unlike they are today.

In the 1970’s, on the heals of the civil rights movement, a new social movement was surging with women across the nation determined to have their voices heard. Outspoken leaders of the women’s liberation movement like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan inspired women to disrobe the “happy homemaker” stigma and provided them with a measure of courage to seek equal treatment as a working woman.

It was this new age attitude in 1971 that led to female journalist, Denise McCluggage, to challenge the antiquated gender discriminant norm of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and become the first female reporter on pit lane.

In 1974, Johnny “Lone Star J.R.” Rutherford, a three-time Indy 500 winner, had his wife Betty score his laps from the team’s pit area - making her the first driver’s wife to spend the entire race in the pits. With Rutherford winning the race, and Betty receiving media attention for her pit side presence, many other driver wives followed in her footsteps in subsequent years.

In 1976, Janet Guthrie became the first female race car driver to attempt passing the mandatory Indianapolis 500 “rookie” qualifications test. Unfortunately, due to several “mechanical” gremlins thwarting her effort to pass the required speeds, Janet had to wait until 1977 to create global history by becoming the first female race car driver to ever start the Indianapolis 500.

Ms. Guthrie competed three times in the Indy 500, and the car she drove in 1978 was enshrined in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum.

Since Ms. Guthrie’s historic breaking of the gender barrier, there have been 10 other female race car drivers with entries for the Indy 500, nine of them having two or more starts, with Lyn St. James and Sarah Fisher tied for nine.

The most decorated female driver is Danica Patrick.

In 2005, Danica’s “rookie” year at the Indianapolis 500, she qualified fourth and finished fourth in the race, while also becoming the first female race car driver to lead 19 laps of the Indy 500 at race speed and not under caution, taking home “Rookie of the Year” honors.

In 2008, Danica became the first female to win an INDYCAR race when she won at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. In 2009, Danica finished third at the Indy 500 and led laps once again during the Indy 500 in 2011.

In seven Indy 500 starts, Danica amassed six Top-10 finishes.

The race car Danica drove in 2005 was also enshrined in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum.

Lastly, with regards to women overcoming their gender discrimination issues at Indianapolis, on three separate occasions four women started the Indianapolis 500 race at the same time.

As for African American participation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, their accomplishments at the Speedway, in comparison to the women, are skewed greatly.

Before Tony Hulman purchased the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945, the racially charged state of Indiana, with the uprising of the Ku Klux Klan, did not even allow African Americans to attend the Indianapolis 500, let alone compete as drivers or mechanics.

There was a separate “barnstorming” organization that held races for black drivers only, called “The Gold and Glory Sweepstakes”. These races were organized all over the midwest states by the “Colored Speedway Association” that was founded in 1924.

Through CityBuzzLocal.com’s research, we were unable to identify when African Americans were allowed entrance into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to enjoy the Indy 500.

In 1973, a former “Gold and Glory Sweepstakes” race car driver name Sumner “Red” Oliver, became the first African American mechanic, in Indy 500 history, to work on an Indy Car when he was hired by the Patrick Racing Team.

It wasn’t until 1985 when Willy T. Ribbs became the first African American race car driver to tour competitive laps at the Speedway in an attempt to qualify for the Indy 500.

Unfortunately, a similar fate of “mechanical” gremlins, like Janet Guthrie’s attempt in 1976, led to Willy withdrawing his 1985 Indy 500 entry that was put together (in part) by boxing promoter Don King with Miller Brewing sponsorship.

In 1991, Willy T. upgraded his celebrity support with the financial assistance of Bill Cosby and the two of them created Indianapolis 500 history by becoming the first African American car owner and driver combo to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.

Willy T. would make one other appearance at Indianpolis in 1993.

Incredibly, unlike Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick, Willy T.’s race car was never enshrined in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum, considering he shattered the color barrier.

Sadly to date, George Mack in 2002, is the only other African American race car driver credited with competing in the Indianapolis 500.

With that said, there has been a black man win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Lewis Hamilton, a three-time Formula One World Champion, is from Great Britain and in 2007 he won the United States Grand Prix.

Amazingly, given this historic accomplishment, Lewis Hamilton’s race car was not enshrined in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum - but Formula One drivers Michael Schumacher (Germany) and Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) both have Formula One cars that they have driven, at the Speedway, enshrined inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum.

What CityBuzzLocal.com has found to be more amazing, unlike NASCAR, INDYCAR has never organized a driver development program to assist drivers similar in nature to the often criticized “Drive For Diversity” program instituted by NASCAR CEO Brian France.

The closest attempt we found was in 2011 when Willy T. Ribbs, celebrating his 20th anniversary of breaking the color barrier at Indianapolis, founded Willy T. Ribbs Racing with businessman Chris Miles of Starting Grid, Inc., to compete in INDYCAR’s Indy Lights Championship.

Willy T. came full circle by hiring African American race car driver, Chase Austin, to pilot their Indy Lights race car; who at 14 years old was a former development driver hired by one of NASCAR’s flagship racing operations, Hendrick Motorsports.

Significantly underfunded, in hopes of keeping Willy T. Ribbs Racing afloat, Willy T. at 56 years old, came out of retirement to compete in the inaugural Grand Prix of Baltimore to provide further exposure for the race team and their driver development interests.

On June 17, 2017, Willy T. found himself competing once again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Sports Car Vintage Racing Association’s (SVRA) “Brickyard Invitational: Indy Legends Charity Pro-Am” competing against other former legendary Indy 500 racers.

Unfortunately, in a unique twist of fate, Willy suffered a mechanical issue, while leading the race, just moments from the end of the 50 minute race.

So why does INDYCAR’s history have any significant relevance to NASCAR?

Simple.

When numerically matched up, side-by-side, the discriminant comparison are tragically similar.

INDYCAR

0 - African American team owners/drivers

0 - African American on-air television talent

0 - driver development program

2 - African Americans have qualified for the Indianapolis 500 in 101 years

NASCAR

0 - African American team owners/drivers

0 - African American on-air television talent

1 - driver development program

0 - African Americans have qualified for the Daytona 500 in 69 years

Which takes us all the way back to what this article is about - federal discrimination and class action lawsuits.

Over the course of the past two years, NASCAR has displayed its incompetence of understanding their deficiencies regarding diversity.

NASCAR has amassed an exorbitant amount of negative press for their bumbled attempts to showcase that they are diverse, and not discriminant.

But clearly NASCAR’s most recent attempts to showcase diversity, has only showcased their desperation!

NASCAR it really is sad to see you have, ultimately, zero self awareness.

NASCAR you should have known that the first Mexican born driver, in Daniel Suarez, competing in this year’s Daytona 500, would have bad optics, given the fact that there has never been an African American driver compete in the 59 year history of “The Great American Race”.

NASCAR you should have known that Darrell Wallace, Jr. losing his Xfinity ride with Roush-Fenway Racing, halfway through this season while sitting fourth in the championship, would have bad optics - especially with the $500 million federal discrimination lawsuit hanging over your head.

NASCAR you should have known that quickly trying to put Darrell Wallace, Jr. in Richard Petty Motorsports’ Monster Energy Series Cup car for two races, and then yank him out would have bad optics - especially with the $500 million federal discrimination lawsuit hanging over your head.

NASCAR you should have known partnering with the Walt Disney World Co. and Pixar Animation Studios for their Cars 3 animated film would not provide the kind of positive exposure you anticipated having with Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace, Jr. voicing characters, as well as allowing them to share the hard luck story of Rivers (Wendell) Scott had in his racing career - it is just simply bad optics, especially with the $500 million federal discrimination lawsuit hanging over your head.

And NASCAR you absolutely, 100%, should have told NBC not to hire Ato Boldon, who is Jamaican and not African American, for their NBC NASCAR broadcast team because of the bad optics - especially with the $500 million federal discrimination lawsuit hanging over your head.

Although naturally you “white privileged” thought this out believing, “what would be the big deal, at least he’s black.”

And to make matters worse, and there is no sense in trying to fix it now, because we have already taken screen shots of NASCAR.com, since the time Ato was announced as a new NBC broadcast member - but you did not even have the decency to place his press release on NASCAR.com’s website.

That my friend is bad, bad, bad optics - and a clear indication you have ZERO self awareness.

It is fairly easy to identify that Terrance Alton Cox III’s $500 million federal discrimination lawsuit is only scratching the surface with how systematically discriminant the motorsports industry has been towards African Americans.

In the event, a jury of Mr. Cox’s peers does award him a financial settlement against NASCAR, he is only able to take “one small step for (a) man...”, which will still be a significant step forward, in the right direction.

However, without question, the class action lawsuit the Clergy For Minority Youth Matters Movement is helping organize, against all corporate sponsors and partners associated with INDYCAR and NASCAR, will give rise to a catastrophic shift in the motorsports industry, worldwide, for everyone who have significantly benefitted financially, for decades, and not shared in the wealth with African Americans.

So remarkably, it is a fair comparison, to liken the Clergy For Minority Youth Matters Movement’s quest to eradicate the systemic discriminating culture within INDYCAR and NASCAR, through their efforts to organize a class action lawsuit as - “... one giant leap for mankind.”