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On September 16, 2017, partnered to offer local students interested in journalism and video production with an opportunity to provide coverage of the race being held at the Chicagoland Speedway.  Among those students were Alma Garcia and Uriel Caballero of City Colleges and Laura Zornosa or Northwestern University.  These students were lucky enough to be course side all day long, snapping photos and shooting video of the action as it unfolded.  NAHJ Chicago is excited to see the professionalism of the works produced by these aspiring journalists.  Garcia and Caballero shot and edited the video above.  Zornosa took the pictures below and wrote the following description of her experience.

by Laura Zornosa

Rearing from a sea of RVs, campers and tailgates, the glistening stands of the Chicagoland Speedway are a place where worlds collide. On Saturday, September 16, the NASCAR Opinion Leader Initiative (NOLI) hosted a group of Black and Hispanic influencers at a NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

In a space typically dominated by camouflage and cowboy boots, NASCAR’s diversity program aims to engage more women and individuals with diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. There’s more than mere racecars here: the Drive for Diversity Program and Diversity Internship Program both strive to increase participation on and off the track from minority & female applicants.

Alumni of these programs – including top ten finisher Bubba Wallace, Jr. – made appearances at Saturday’s 300 race. The NOLI program extended guests the opportunity to interact with individuals like these. Behind-the-scenes “hot passes” allowed access to the lifeblood of the Speedway’s 930 acres: the garage and pit areas.

There, cars buzzed by while NOLI guests explored behind the scenes and networked with multicultural industry professionals. The racetrack brings a taste of fast-paced metropolitan energy to Joliet, Illinois. NASCAR’s diversity programs bear this same energy, and the potential of a broader audience and more colorful track.

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