First Black NASCAR Owner Heads Racing Nonprofit

First Black NASCAR Owner Heads Racing Nonprofit

Sam Belnavis takes the initiative to encourage students to pursue education and careers in science and math.

Published May 19, 2011

Just like lacrosse, NASCAR is one of those sports in which you don’t hear a lot about Black people.


Sam Belnavis, however, will become the chairman of the board for the nonprofit organization run by NASCAR, Ten80 Student Racing Challenge: NASCAR STEM Initiative.


Ten80 aids students to pursue careers and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Ten80 is comprised of engineers, scientists, teachers and parents, all of whom are part of a larger project, the NASCAR initiative, in which future engineers, scientists and creative business professional prepare for their futures.


The NASCAR STEM Initiative focuses on grades six through 12.


To Belnavis, being one of few Blacks in a career profession is nothing new. He was the first African-American to own a NASCAR team. When co-owning a team with Bill Cosby, Belnavis raced Willy T. Ribbs, the first African-American driver. Ribbs went on to become the first African-American to race in the famous Indianapolis 500.


Belnavis was also the first Black hired in a managerial position for Sears and he started his own advertising agency.


"I look at Ten80 as another first in my career," Belnavis told the Charlotte Observer.


With the guidance of this business pioneer, hopefully students will be inspired to becoming forerunners in mathematics and science.



(Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Written by Danielle Wright


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