Is Tia Norfleet Really the First African-American Female NASCAR Driver?

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 11: Tia Norfleet attends BET Honors 2013: Debra Lee Pre-Dinner - Red Carpet  at The Library of Congress on January 11, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for BET)

Is Tia Norfleet Really the First African-American Female NASCAR Driver?

Tia Norfleet, often referred to as NASCAR's first licensed Black female driver, has been overstating her claims.

Published March 7, 2013

Tia Norfleet, daughter of Bobby Norfleet, who broke into NASCAR in the 1990s, has become sort of a media sensation for being the first and only licensed African-American female NASCAR driver. That is until now. 

The New York Times revealed that many of the accomplishments Norfleet has shared in interviews and on her website are misleading. She does own a license but it isn't regulated by NASCAR. Also on her site, she wears a NASCAR second-tier Nationwide series fire-suit and she shows a schedule indicating that she will be driving in those races, but NASCAR says she has not been approved to compete at that level.

"Ms. Norfleet is one of thousands of individuals who have purchased licenses in the Late Model Division of our sport,”  Marcus Jadotte, Nascar’s vice president for public affairs and multicultural development, wrote in an email to the Times. I am uncomfortable with attempts Ms. Norfleet and her representatives have made to forgo the sport’s development process.”

The New York Times reports

The discrepancy between Norfleet’s auto racing accomplishments and her public comments, as well as apparent legal issues revealed in court documents, have drawn objections from racing officials.

“I am uncomfortable with Tia representing herself in the way that she has,” said Jadotte.

When asked Monday about the nature of her competitive career, Norfleet said: “I’ve been racing in non-sanctioned races before. I’ve been racing forever. For as long as I can remember. I race in non-sanctioned races.”

For the past four years, Norfleet has purchased a license to race at the lowest level of stock-car racing. There is no vetting process for such a license; individual racetracks must approve drivers for competition.

To move up to a higher level of competition — a regional touring series like the K&N Pro Series East or the K&N Pro Series West — a driver must earn approval from NASCAR. Norfleet has not done that yet.

In addition to the questions about her driving background, racing officials are also worried about the criminal record associated with Shauntia Latrice Norfleet, Tia Norfleet's legal name.

Read the full story here

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Written by Natelege Whaley


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