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NASCAR Tries To Diversify Workforce Through Competition, Internships

Tanvee Wakankar is a rising junior at UNC Chapel Hill, studying computer science. She's spending the summer interning with NASCAR.
Gwendolyn Glenn
/
WFAE
Tanvee Wakankar is a rising junior at UNC Chapel Hill, studying computer science. She's spending the summer interning with NASCAR.

Leading up to Sunday’s Coca Cola 600, NASCAR held a diversity pit crew combine last week in Concord. A dozen college athletes of color competed for a chance to train as pit crew members. NASCAR has been criticized over the years for not having a diverse workforce. The combine is part of the organization’s efforts to change that through more intense recruiting and training programs. There’s also an internship program to attract more students of color to other areas of racing, including public relations and computer science.

 

Tanvee Wakankar is a rising junior at UNC Chapel Hill. She landed one of the 10-week NASCAR internships for the summer.

“I actually grew up five minutes from here, so I always knew about NASCAR,” says Tanvee Wakankar, a rising junior at UNC Chapel Hill studying computer science. “I thought it would be a great way to get involved with something new and grow my skill set.”

Johnson C. Smith graduate Dejah Gilliam now works for NASCAR after interning with the organization.
Credit Gwendolyn Glenn / WFAE
/
WFAE
Johnson C. Smith graduate Dejah Gilliam now works for NASCAR after interning with the organization.

Dejah Gilliam, interned with NASCAR after completing her undergraduate degree at Johnson C. Smith and a Master’s degree at Syracuse University. She was hired fulltime two years ago.

“I think it was one of the most hands-on internships that I’ve had,” says Gilliam. “I’ve done NFL and other sports and I felt involved and not like an intern. So when I did get hired, I felt like a part of the team.”

More employees of color can be seen around the tracks in positions like Gilliam’s and in the pit crews, although race officials say they realize they still have a ways to go in terms of making the organization more diverse.

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