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Letter From The Editor - ''My Personal Story, & Our Commitment to Motorsports Diversity

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

I have been a true student of motorsports since year 2000 when my uncle moved to Columbus, OH and introduced me to Big and Little E. Prior to my pursuit of racing knowledge, I have distinct memories of watching Dennis Anderson's monstrous Grave Digger, or King Kenny Bernstein's iconic Budweiser livery win countless races. I remember the rainbow assortment of Pontiac Trans-Ams race in the prestigious IROC events. I sat in amazement as the greatest racer that ever lived, Michael Schumacher won what felt like every start of his career. I always enjoyed motorsports, but it was the off-season of 2000-01 that made me crave and live for more each day.

My uncle had diecast cars that sat on shelves, each with their own story. While they were a wonderful collection, I think I assumed price tags in the millions of dollars as a child. Earnhardt's K2, old Chevy hot rods, Busch Series this, Winston Cup Series that, he had a wonderful collection. There was one driver he highlighted to me that many were unaware of in this era; Wendell Scott's die-cast cars were some of his favourites in the collection.

While we are now fortunate to live in a time where drivers of every shape and colour are in the top ranks of motorsports, Wendell Scott raced in a much different era, in a deeply-rooted region of the country. He was poor. He was tired. Yet he loved cars and he loved to race. There is some conflicting history as to whether Scott himself agreed to be a trouble-making headline and race in areas just to piss off the fans, but the truth we cannot avoid is that there were fans that hated him for one reason; he was a black man in a white man's sport. I learned through a toy car on my uncle's collection in 2001 that Wendell Scott was an unrecognized winner in NASCAR's top series. It killed me as a young boy to think that he experienced hate for something so meaningless such as the colour of his skin. I genuinely dreamt of a day when I would see a black man or a woman win at the top levels of motorsport.

As the years went by, I pursued in my head a career in the racing industry, but I wanted to be behind the wheel not behind the television screen. Our family didn't have a last name like Petty or Earnhardt. We didn't have a revenue like Menard or Penske. We were a middle class family with absolutely no history of racing in our blood. Despite having a NASCAR home-track in our backyard of Obetz, Ohio, it wasn't in the cards for me to get onto the pavement growing up. I instead focused on simulator racing. On the Gran Turismo series alone, I raced over 500,000 miles. I learned why cars respond to different techniques, and how to save fuel and tires. I was essentially a teenage crew chief. While believing in a video gaming career eons before the true gaming era existed, I kept studying racing. I got books as holiday gifts, I read excerpts in our local Columbus Dispatch paper, I would stay up late to see if the news affiliates would give a shoutout or update to the racing world in their sports segment. (Often times, they would not.) I learned about NASCAR, Indycar, drag racing, dirt bikes, I wanted to know it all; I needed to.

Years would pass and I found a position working for an arcade in 2005. While I didn't have many racing fans in my world at that time, I entered a racing pool with about 5 colleagues and had the opportunity to interact with other racing fans on a regular basis for the first time in my life. We would bet five bucks on a driver each week and the winner would take the pot. We kept stats and records, and eventually it would turn into a fantasy league that our core group of friends still maintains today. While working for the arcade, I would every Saturday. We had a go-kart track on property. I helped our mechanic Jim update sponsor and livery decals so that our karts were painted like the top drivers in racing. As I look back that was probably a copyright violation.

I would clock-out many nights and race for hours on the go-karts, I easily raced more than a thousand 5-minute rides each summer on Saturday nights. I would go home and read about all of the racing I had missed while I was at work. Sunday was dedicated to watching the races. I would finish my evening watching Dave Despain's Wind Tunnel. Despain and the late Indycar writer Robin Miller would inform me of eveyrthing I needed to know before the new week started.

That was it, for a long time I had go-kart racing, and racing news on tv. I always believed it could be more. Our fantasy league connected me with people all over the country in the coming years. I met racers, drivers, and other friends. They would prove to be pivotal down the road.

My great friends Kyle Turner and Tyler Lawler started a podcast with me in 2013. It wasn't any good, but we loved it. We talked about racing, politics, everything. It evolved over the years into a product called Race Appeal Radio, which had 4 seasons.

Our highlighted guests in our youth were Bill Lester and Jesse Iwuji. It was my mission through the show to emphasize the importance of diversity in motorsports. These men are two of the best examples around. Bill is remembered for his time in stock car racing, where he was both a black racer and a 45 year old rookie in NASCAR's Cup Series in 2006. Jesse is of Nigerian decent and is currently a reservist in the United States Navy.

Race Appeal Radio transitioned to in 2020. In our first year we built a team of content creators that do video gaming, opinion pieces, at-track marketing, and more. We pride ourselves as a team of diversity. Our co-editor Adam Carabine is a Canadian writer and statistic analyst. Our show's producer is a woman, Peggy Lohr. Our roaming influencer Crystal Clay is a black woman with past experience in supercross and marketing. Colin Best, our open-wheel analyst helps us become more wide-spread rather than pinpointed on one sport. One of our show's most popular segment writers Dan Foster is an openly gay man with decades of racing fandom. The political ideology of our team ranges from left-to-right, and geographically we have members of our team all over North America.

What started as a little boy wanting to be a racer, turned into him learning about the significance of motorsports diversity. Racing is the most true of sports that is for ALL people. In 2021, Darrell Wallace Jr. made this an even greater reality, and our team got to cover the race.

Our TEAM doesn't always get along. We have a range in opinions, thoughts, expression, and ideas for what makes racing best. We iron out all of our differences for a greater outcome. I challenge you to find an independent publication that is more focused on emphasizing coverage of racing for everyone. Racing Refresh celebrated our first anniversary within the last month. In our first year we were approved as a member of the NASCAR media, awarded an Indycar credential, and earned 98,000 unique readers.

Our goals for 2022 are even greater and we are committed to providing quality, fact-driven, community purposed content for years to come.

Thank you for helping me, us, and everyone of the Racing Refresh team, an overnight success. Here's to year two.

- AJ

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