You only have to watch about 30 seconds of a NASCAR race to know it’s a white man’s sport, but Tia Norfleet is looking to add a little color and femininity to the business. In 2004, the 24-year-old became the first, youngest, and only African American female driver on the NASCAR circuit, but her fight didn’t stop there. Just because Tia received a NASCAR racing license doesn’t mean her fellow drivers welcomed her into the industry with open arms, and in light of the fact that NASCAR has been faced with multiple lawsuits from minorities alleging racial discrimination, Tia has launched a grassroots effort to make sure nothing stops her from racing.
Edward Williams, founder of the marketing company, Team Tia, said it’s not other cars on the track that are Tia’s main competition so much as it is the NASCAR industry as a whole. he noted the million dollar question on everyone’s mind is will NASCAR actually accept the black female racer.
“Our goal is to raise funds needed for everyone to find out,” he told the Milwaukee Community Journal.
Racing isn’t a cheap profession and with the online fundraising organization, Tiapower.com, Tia and her team hope she’ll be able to raise the financial support she needs to breakdown these necessary barriers.
“If President Obama can raise $700 million, surely we can raise $5 million to get Tia on the track,” Williams added. “We have a good team and I think with the public’s help we can get Tia on the track and testing in two weeks.”
Tia isn’t just embarking on this journey for her, she’s continuing a family legacy. Her father, Bobby Norfleet, made his NASCAR debut at the Portland International Raceway road course on March 26, 2000, which was a historical race itself. Bobby competed against NASCAR driver Bill Lester that day making the race the first and only time in NASCAR history that two African Americans drivers have competed at the same time. That gives you a pretty good idea of how vanilla the industry is. Tia says she also hopes to use racing to inspire other black women who are facing stacked odds like she is to never give up.
“It is sheer passion and instinct that drives this youngster to want to compete in this sport,” Isaac Hayes, spokesperson/CEO of Tiapower.com, said. “She was born to compete.”
Hopefully she will get the chance she’s been waiting for this year.
Have you heard about Tia Norfleet?
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