Note: This feature is part of a series of stories highlighting Hispanic and Latino ties to INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the celebration of National Hispanic American Heritage Month from Sept. 15-Oct. 15.
The Race for Equality & Change roared to life at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and in INDYCAR since its creation in July 2020 with the goal and creating fundamental change and supporting diversity and inclusivity across the motorsports industry, and one area with many tangible results lies within the Hispanic community.
IMS and INDYCAR have partnered with several Hispanic-led organizations with the goal of increasing outreach to Hispanic members of the Indianapolis community, diversifying the grandstands at the Racing Capital of the World and more.
Two key ways this mission was executed was through partnerships with the Indiana Latino Expo and the Indiana Latino Institute, two entities that have a large impact on the Indianapolis community.
The Indiana Latino Expo is a nonprofit statewide organization that represents a platform of opportunities for the Latino community. The organization supports various communities in creating awareness of their businesses, promoting economic development, cultural advancement and educational opportunities.
IMS aided the organization and helped to bring its vision to life by integrating Latinos into the community and showcasing their culture through various events in 2021. Most notably, IMS and the Indiana Latino Expo partnered to host Brickyard Latin Fest over the summer ahead of Brickyard Weekend in mid-August, which featured the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NTT INDYCAR SERIES at IMS.
Brickyard Latin Fest was a block party-style event that featured Latino food trucks, booths for local Hispanic businesses and organizations, Hispanic dance groups and much more, alongside NASCAR and INDYCAR show cars and IMS giveaways.
The Indiana Latino Expo also helped promote Cinco de Mayo on Main, a street festival on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana, at the beginning of May. The event was hosted by Arrow McLaren SP, which fields an NTT INDYCAR SERIES entry for Mexican driver Pato O’Ward.
The street festival brought out members of the Latino community to experience the thrills of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, while other members of the Indianapolis and Speedway communities were able to experience Hispanic and Latino cultures in person.
“Reaching and engaging with Latinos and Hispanics is our mission, and we are proud to partner with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR to celebrate the contributions and influence of the Hispanic/Latinos drivers and fans during Hispanic Heritage Month and year-round,” said Gloria Jimenez, executive director of the Indiana Latino Expo. “We are excited to continue building programming with IMS to excite and educate fans of all ages about what the Racing Capital of the World has to offer.”
IMS and INDYCAR also worked with the Indiana Latino Institute to connect students to racing and assist with career exploration within the motorsports industry, which includes career paths surrounding STEM, marketing, communications and much more.
Students from the Indiana Latino Institute were on site during Brickyard Weekend to cheer on O’Ward, who competed in the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES race, as well as Mexico’s Daniel Suarez, who competed in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard NASCAR Cup Series race.
The Indiana Latino Institute is a nonprofit agency committed to serving Latino communities throughout Indiana. The organization’s mission is to improve health and advance education for the Indiana Latino community through statewide advocacy, research and culturally responsive programs.
“Entering the IMS gates, students feel the awe of the monumental site,” said Marlene Dotson, president and CEO of the Indiana Latino Institute. “After learning about internships and employment opportunities, they leave inspired at the possibility to work in areas from marketing to engineering. This ILI and IMS partnership opens career options for the Latino community and builds race fans for a lifetime.”
This all came after IMS kicked off the spring by hosting the Immigrant Welcome Center’s Live Local Think Global fundraiser event, which celebrated 15 years of creating a welcoming city and community for Indianapolis’ immigrant and refugee neighbors.
It sparked a year-long effort to show the Latino and Hispanic communities what is available to them in the racing industry that ends with a celebration of National Hispanic American Heritage Month, which celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of those who hail from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America from Sept. 15-Oct. 15.
While the formal celebration ends this week, IMS and INDYCAR are keeping the celebration going into the offseason, ready to build more support and create even more fundamental change in 2022 for the Race for Equality & Change and the Indianapolis community.