ABOVE PHOTO: Sergio Pena.
COLUMBUS, IN – Sergio Pena is an 18-year-old American-born son of a Colombian father.
Darrell Wallace Jr. is a 17-year old African American.
They might be NASCAR’s future, writes Ron Green Jr. of McClatchy Newspapers.
“We’re trying to be the new faces of NASCAR,” said Wallace, who lives in Concord, Indiana
Pena and Wallace are in NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity initiative, a program that provides training and sponsorship for young minority and women drivers, providing them the opportunity to race their way into the sport’s highest levels.
Both also are driving in the developmental K&N Pro Series East to prepare them for the next step into the Truck or Nationwide series.
Wallace is second in points with one win and four top-10 finishes in four starts. Pena, meanwhile, has one victory and three top-10s in four starts.
Their youth is striking.
Two weeks ago, Pena attended his high school prom in Virginia.
In another two weeks, Wallace will graduate from Northwest Cabarrus High then zip off to a race later that Saturday in Georgia.
Both began racing go-karts before their 10th birthdays and both have a single-minded focus to reach Sprint Cup racing .
“Everyone takes a different path,” Pena said. “There are so many options. But it’s up to you. You have to perform.”
Both are hopeful of driving in the Nationwide Series next year. From there, getting a Sprint Cup ride might be determined by their success on the track.
Being accepted into the Drive For Diversity program at Revolution Racing, Pena and Wallace have eased the financial burden on their families to finance their budding careers. They also have had to work with teachers and faculty at their schools as they balance racing with getting an education.
Both understand what their presence could do for Sprint Cup racing, changing the drivers’ demographic while tapping into a potential new fan base.
“We’re trying to bring diversity into the sport,” Pena said.
“Everybody likes change and we’re trying to bring more fans into the sport.”