If Terrance Cox III had it his way, he’d be thriving as a part-owner of a NASCAR team alongside Steve Harvey. That didn’t work out as planned, however, and now Cox is suing NASCAR.
And International Speedway Corp., and nearly every single race team.
Cox on Friday filed a lawsuit for $500 million against NASCAR, alleging the sanctioning body has kept him and his race team from attracting sponsorship, according to ESPN. Cox formed Diversity Motorsports Racing in 2010, and tried to get NASCAR to hire more African-American drivers and aid in attracting sponsors for them.
But Cox claims those potential sponsors opted to endorse drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart. The suit also alleges NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. made no effort to help the team attract sponsorship, or work with the team through Drive for Diversity — NASCAR’s initiative to make the sport more inclusive.
NASCAR and its teams “engaged in unlawful intentional racial discrimination by refusing to sanction African-American owned racing teams … and by refusing to hire African-American drivers for its racing teams,” the lawsuit reads, via ESPN.
Cox worked with Harvey to try to form a race team called “Steve Harvey Races 4 Education,” but NASCAR told the “Family Feud” host it doesn’t want to be associated with Diversity Motorsports Racing, according to TMZ.
Harvey threw another wrinkle into the dispute on Tuesday, however, by stating on his radio show that he never had interest in owning a race team or being part of the suit.
NASCAR defended its Drive for Diversity program and said it plans to fight the lawsuit.
“NASCAR embraces all individuals interested and involved in our sport, whether as partners, fans, competitors or employees, and there is no merit to this lawsuit,” the statement said, via ESPN. “NASCAR has a long-standing history of investing in diversity efforts including the NASCAR Drive for Diversity, NASCAR Diversity Internship and NASCAR Diversity Pit Crew Development programs. … We stand behind our actions, and will not let a publicity-seeking legal action deter us from our mission.”
Nelson Piquet Jr., however, made a claim similar to Cox’s when he revealed the reason he stepped away from NASCAR was because it’s difficult for foreign drivers to ind sponsors. Although, in recent years, drivers of color have had more success breaking into the sport.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Bubba Wallace, currently the only African-American driver in NASCAR’s top two series, became the first black driver to win a national series race in 50 years when he posted a Camping World Truck Series victory in 2013. In addition, this year Daniel Suarez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a major NASCAR event and Kyle Larson became the first Japanese-American driver to win a Sprint Cup race.
Outside the race car, former NBA star Brad Daugherty is a co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing.
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Thumbnail photo via Blaine Ohigashi/NASCAR via Getty Images via NASCAR Media