Back in July, IndyCar announced that it was making diversity a primary goal of the series with its Race For Equality & Change program. Like a lot of motorsport programs announced at the time, it was pretty vague in its details and concrete goals—but some of the first benefits are popping up. Earlier this week, the sport announced the formation of Force Indy, a Black-focused USF2000 team designed both to get more Black drivers into the sport but also to hire more Black engineers, designers, communications managers, and more.
The team’s principal is Rod Reid, a former team principal in other forms of motorsport and now the head of NXG Youth Motorsports Inc., an organization whose ultimate goal is to introduce young kids from underprivileged areas to motorsport. Reid and NXG have been introducing 11-16 year-olds to the opportunities racing can offer both on and off-track, with ample karting time and instruction on engineering, communications, marketing, management, and more.
“I started a race team in 1984, and I have always had a desire to have a team of talented individuals who look like me in the professional ranks of the sport,” Reid said during the announcement. “I have been in and around the sport for 40 years, and this is just the culmination of years of hard work. I simply cannot wait to see this race team on the track this spring.”
Fielding a team in USF2000, the bottom rung of IndyCar’s Road to Indy feeder series program, just makes sense for Reid. It’s a great way to get young racers of color in the door, prepping them for a successful career through the ranks.
The cherry on top of the whole deal is the fact that Roger Penske himself has dipped a toe into the endeavor, providing mentorship to the team in the form of longtime Penske engineers and other team personnel. Considering the fact that Team Penske is one of the dominant names in IndyCar, both in the present day and throughout history, you couldn’t really get a sweeter deal than that.
Force Indy will be competing in the 2021 season with its first race taking place during the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 5-7, 2021. The team will run with No. 99 in honor of Dewey “Rago Jack” Gatson, a Black driver/mechanic who used the number. Sponsorship and a driver will be announced in the near future.