African-American businessman and motorsports coach and manager Rod Reid has announced the formation of a Black-owned race team targeted at hiring and training Black engineers, drivers, and mechanics to compete at the 2021 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, regarded as an early step toward the famed NTT IndyCar series.
Calling his group Force Indy, Reid is teaming up with legendary Team Penske owner Roger Penske to launch the initiative. It is the latest in auto racing endeavors Reid has been a part of and he says he is excited about it.
“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,” said Reid, who founded NXG Youth Motorsports, a program that helps minority youth get involved with racing. “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.”
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Personnel from Team Penske will be on hand as the team trains in Concord, N.C., offering guidance to new members of Force Indy.
“When the IMS and INDYCAR acquisition happened a year ago, I was pleased to learn of the work Rod Reid was doing,” said Penske, who is chairman of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “To lend our support to an effort like this is a natural. Together, we’ll work to not only get this new team off the ground but continue to support it and its mission as it continues down a path to compete at the top level.”
Reid said he appreciated the support from the Penske group, which boasts multiple, NASCAR, IndyCar, Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 victories.
“We are fortunate to have Team Penske offer guidance and race-winning experience,” Reid said. “Roger’s experience will be an invaluable resource in creating a successful organization. There’s no better time than now to start a team.”
Force Indy debuts March 5-7 in 2021 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The team’s car will sport No. 99 in honor of Dewey “Rajo Jack” Gatson, who used that number on his car late in his career in 1951. Although he was one of the most successful Black drivers in motorsports history, he was never able to compete in the Indianapolis 500.
Photo: Getty Images
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