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NASCAR is looking for new and diverse talent to groom


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WATCH  | Many people conjure up images of Ricky Bobby from "Talladega Nights" when they think of professional race car drivers. But Rev Racing, a North Carolina-based racing operation, is working with NASCAR to add variety to the sport.

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For more than a decade, NASCAR has been scouting for young female and ethnically-diverse talent for its Drive for Diversity team. The program, also known as D4D, is designed to make NASCAR more reflective of its diverse fan base. 

Multicultural fanbase 

According to Dawn Harris, Director of Multicultural Development for NASCAR, about 20 percent of its fans are people of color, and about 40 percent are women. 

We went to a combine at the New Smyrna Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida where 17 drivers competed for a coveted spot on the D4D team. Drivers that are selected will go on to compete in NASCAR's regional ranks, and will have the opportunity to work their way up to national races if they qualify. 

NASCAR: Diversity is good for the sport 

Drivers at the D4D Combine said it's important to have more women and people of color involved in racing to help topple racial stereotypes that some say exist within NASCAR. 

"As in other aspects of sports, the NBA, NFL, WNBA, people of all different races and sexes have somebody to look up to and be like 'Wow, that person looks like me, I could actually go out and do that if they did that,'" said Walter Thomas III, who traveled from Indiana.

NASCAR 'Drive for Diversity'

Macy Causey -- who, at 15 years old is one of the youngest drivers to compete at this year's Combine -- stressed the importance of having people from different cultural backgrounds in the racing world. 

"Everybody has their own different way. And I feel like, right now you have just a bunch of the same people and you've got to get more, you've got to get different people in there," she said. 

Diverse, but still competitive

But it won't be an easy road for the drivers who are evaluated and are hoping to make it onto the D4D 2017 team. For one, NASCAR racing is extremely competitive on and off the track with only a limited number of spots available. 

"There's not a lot of opportunity for a lot of drivers so we have to go out there and do the best we can," said Amber Balcaen, a 24-year-old driver from Canada. 

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NASCAR racing is also extremely expensive. Just one Sprint Cup series car can cost up to $150,000.

"You're looking at well over millions of dollars," said Balcaen, pictured above.  

Juggling school and racing 

This year's crop ranges from ages 15 to 24 years old. Most of the drivers competing in the D4D combine are also juggling school with racing. "It's a real good balancing act," said Thomas, who was studying for a test in between his race track evaluations at the combine. 

"College is definitely going to come first and school is definitely important, but racing is definitely going to be there, too," said Causey, who is homeschooled and currently in her junior year of high school.

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Some drivers, like many of us, deal with roadblocks in their personal lives, too,  Armani Williams,, 16, is a driver who has Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

I'm proud to be autistic and I'm proud to be a race car driver... I can inspire many people that are impacted by autism.
Armani Williams


D4D is a great opportunity for young drivers and has produced up and coming stars like Sprint Cup series driver Kyle Larson, and Xfinity Series drivers Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr.

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