23XI driver Bubba Wallace meets with his team at Phoenix Raceway last year.fake images
When Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin founded the 23XI Racing NASCAR team in late 2020, they signaled their intention to diversify the sport. Let the record show that they are fulfilling that mission.
Formed on the heels of America’s social justice movement, one in which 23XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace was heavily involved, one of the team’s main goals was to develop a more diverse sport overall, from its fan base. to your workforce. While NASCAR has been working to change this narrative more than ever in recent years and has made progress, stock car racing was long viewed as a traditionally conservative sport that has struggled with diversity issues and a predominantly white fan base.
Now, just a month into its second season, 23XI has hired a host of new staff from outside the industry, including many Black or Latino among other underrepresented groups. Some of the new hires have never worked in NASCAR or motorsports, underscoring how the team seeks to bring different perspectives so it can benefit from a diversity of thought. The team has also created the 23XI Speed Institute which encompasses initiatives it is doing with sponsors around diversity, equity and inclusion, including scholarships, paid internships, job opportunities and executive training.
23XI doesn’t have a set quota that it’s following in terms of diverse signings, according to team president Steve Lauletta, the respected NASCAR executive whom Jordan and Hamlin tapped to lead their team after he walked away from the sport. “It’s a journey, not a destination,” Lauletta said, describing the team’s DEI efforts. “Starting with our property, partners and everyone on the team, it is something we want to do and have made it part of our mission and values.
Truck driver Jamason Provost likes the team atmosphere.Courtesy of 23XI Racing
“We want to do that not only to make the workforce diverse and inclusive, but with our fans, we want to have a brand that can appeal to everyone,” he continued. “It’s been great so far, but we have to keep focusing on it.”
Various employees have held various positions on both the business and competition sides of 23XI Racing. However, Lauletta notes that it’s been easier to populate the business side with diverse employees because the team can hire people with relevant skills from all sorts of industries.
Kreig Robinson, director of partnership management, works with 23XI sponsors including Jordan Brand, DoorDash, Monster Energy, McDonald’s, Columbia Sportswear, Dr Pepper and MoneyLion. His previous experience had been with Michael Jordan Motorsports (AMA Superbike and MotoGP) and Red Bull. Social Media Manager George Tillerson has prior social media and digital marketing experience with Jeld-Wen, Lowe’s and FleishmanHillard, among other companies. Human resources manager Nikita Smith joined 23XI from the Charlotte Hornets.
Jamason Provost, a truck driver for 23XI, spent eight years in the US Army. He said one of the things he enjoys about 23XI is that it has a very military-like team atmosphere.
“The brotherhood that I have here is absolutely amazing,” he said.
The competition side requires unique skills to be, say, a NASCAR crew chief directing a dozen people on how to build and maintain fast cars. 23XI race engineer Julian Pena was hired after his previous experience with Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing.
Jamie Ruiz brings an entertaining background to 23XI. Courtesy of 23XI Racing
With the competition side having to catch up, the team is putting extra emphasis on filling entry-level competition positions and their intern positions with diverse hires so they can start working their way up to higher positions. within the sport or 23XI, specifically.
RELOCATION TO SUCCESS
Jamie Ruiz, 23XI’s new chief marketing officer, comes to the Charlotte-based team after a West Coast career with entertainment giants like Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures. Ruiz said that she and her husband were already looking to move to the Charlotte area, and while researching possible jobs, she learned about 23XI and its efforts to change NASCAR, “and that was very interesting to me.”
The first NASCAR race he attended was earlier this year when the sport traveled to the Los Angeles Coliseum for the Busch Light Clash exhibition event, which was widely viewed in the industry as one of the most ethnically diverse audiences in recent memory. NASCAR is beginning to compete in more urban locations in order to bring the sport to new fans.
Both Lauletta and Ruiz said it’s already clear that bringing in new kinds of voices is helping the team do things differently than most other NASCAR teams, when it comes to areas like social media and marketing.
The team has also partnered with Dr Pepper on a scholarship program that awards $5,000 each to 23 students, an example of the work 23XI is doing with its sponsors.
Ruiz said what has been refreshing for her is that 23XI is taking action in the DEI space instead of just talking about it.
“What we want to do and represent as a team is not just talking points, it’s something that we really take very seriously,” he said. “Creating that environment where it’s not something that we just talk about, but things are really being done to make sure that the business and the fan base represent what we want it to look like and the fabric of society – you’re really looking at it. that progression is happening.”