UNITED STATES — This is equivalent to owning an NBA or NFL team, if you didn’t know. If you’re a fan of racing, you will come to know the name, Melissa Harville-Lebron.
A DYNASTY IN THE MAKING…
According to Black Enterprise, Melissa never imagined her pursuits would lead to making history as the first African-American woman to own a race team licensed by NASCAR.
— Nascar World (@NascarWorldNews) February 22, 2018
The source reports that 47-year-old Harville-Lebron has developed E2 Northeast Motorsports — a multicultural racing team of 4 Black and 2 Latino drivers. The Black Enterprise quotes Melissa as follows.
“It’s important for our culture to push generational wealth to our children. It’s important to lead by example. All too often our children see negative images of our culture and I think it’s very important for people of our culture actually succeeding in business.”
She created the team under her umbrella company, W.M. Stone Enterprises, Inc.
— Tamara Walker (@nyprdiva) March 28, 2016
She created E2 Northeast Motorsports under the umbrella of W.M. Stone Enterprises, Inc. The E2 Northeast Motorsports team became the first multicultural team to race competitively in NASCAR, with four black and Latino drivers — two in the camping world truck series and two in NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series. Two of the drivers are brothers and Harville-Lebron’s sons, Eric and Enico.
Besides making history, Harville-Lebron celebrated another victory on Feb. 16, when her team ran its first official race in the Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) at Daytona. Scott Stenzel started the race in an E2 Northeast Motorsports Chevrolet, marking his return to the NCWTS following a three-year hiatus. He came in 15th place at Daytona International Speedway.
In a statement released earlier this month, Harville-Lebron called it an “honor” to partner with Stenzel and the NCWTS team, Copp Motorsports. “This team truly exemplifies diversity, that is sure to attract a younger multicultural fan base. It’s an honor to announce that Stenzel is now a part of this racing family.”
In addition to granting opportunities to people of color, Harville-Lebron wishes to see more become sports owners, particularly of NASCAR teams. “It’s important for our culture to push generational wealth to our children. It’s important to lead by example. All too often our children see negative images of our culture and I think it’s very important for people of our culture actually succeeding in business,” she said.
AN ILLNESS MAKES WAY FOR A DREAM…
She actually began this company nearly a decade after her 2005 internship at Sony Music.
According to the source, during that time, she launched her own music label while working for the New York City Department of Corrections office.
However, she suffered a severe asthma attack which forced an early retirement. That’s when, in 2014, she started W.M. Stone Enterprises, Inc.
The Black Enterprise reports as follows.
“Seeing the passion and joy that her sons had for racing compelled Harville-Lebron to want to help them follow their heart. However, as she explored the sport’s history, she noticed its notorious lack of diversity. There were little to no drivers of color, let alone an owner. That motivated her all the more to fill the gap.”
Times are changing, people. This is clearly a franchise that has remained mostly white-dominated, from drivers to owners. And, here’s a team where the owner and drivers are non-white.
— Black Enterprise (@blackenterprise) February 23, 2018
Time to start watching her team advance!
AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN NASCAR
African-Americans currently comprise just 6 percent of NASCAR’s fan base. Programs like Drive for Diversity, which started in 2004, aim to expand the reach of historically underrepresented groups in the sport through a series of internships, pit-training programs, and driver courses through Rev Racing.
Wendell Scott became the first African-American to start a NASCAR race when he took the green flag on March 4, 1961, in Spartanburg, SC. However, Scott had engine problems that day and did not finish. Not only was Scott the first and most prolific of all African-Americans in the sport but also the most successful.
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.
Born born on October 3, 1993, in Mobile, Alabama, Wallace started racing cars at nine years old. He launched his NASCAR career in 2010 with regional races in the K&N Pro Series East, and nationally in May 2012 with an XFinity Series race at Iowa Speedway in May, where he came in ninth. In October of 2013, he broke Wendell Scott’s record with a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Martinsville Speedway.
According to TMZ Sports, Ex-NFL star Shawne Merriman says he’s taking on a new challenge as the owner of a NASCAR racing team. Merriman who revealed he’s part-owner of a NASCAR K&N team. K&N is a regional series used to develop drivers.
Why NASCAR? SM told us he’s a HUGE racing fan, having caught the bug at a race some years ago … and said he wants to do something to promote his passion to black youth.
“We thought NASCAR would be a huge deal for us, kinda going into a different demographic. There’s not a whole lot of minorities looking to be into NASCAR.”
SUED FOR ‘DISCRIMINATING’ AGAINST BLACKS
Back in 2016, NASCAR was hit with a $500 million lawsuit accusing the auto racing body of racial discrimination for preventing black-owned teams and drivers from competing, including in the Sprint Cup Series.
Terrance Cox and his company, Diversity Motorsports Racing LLC, filed a lawsuit late Friday in US District Court in Manhattan against NASCAR, its parent company, International Speedway Corp., and 18 teams, according to court records.
The plaintiffs are also seeking an injunction requiring the defendants to “fully integrate the African-American community.”
In a statement, NASCAR said the lawsuit has no merit.
“Diversity both on and off the track continues to be a top priority for NASCAR and its stakeholders,” the organization said. “We stand behind our actions, and will not let a publicity-seeking legal action deter us from our mission.”
The plaintiffs said they sued after NASCAR refused to let them field a team or join its Drive for Diversity program, and last year told them to cease contact.
Citing NASCAR’s website, the plaintiffs said none of the 48 drivers in the Sprint Cup, NASCAR’s top racing series, is black, and only one of the 18 teams has partial African-American ownership. They also said only one driver in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series circuit is black.
If you will, let us know your thoughts. If you have any comments, feel free to share them via our Facebook page.
[Featured Photo via @BlackEnterprise / Twitter]