Empowering Black business owners may not spring to mind when one thinks of NASCAR. But for three races this season, the No. 43 car, owned by Richard Petty Motorsports, will carry a message uniquely related to Black empowerment.
The fabled racing team announced last week that it has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with The Lonely Entrepreneur, a New York-based nonprofit that has pledged to give 100,000 Black business owners free access to online tools to grow their businesses.
On Sunday, The Lonely Entrepreneur and its Black Entrepreneur Initiative (BEI) made their NASCAR debut at the Kansas Speedway, festooned on the Petty team’s No. 43 car, a Chevrolet Camaro that finished 25th in the Buschy McBusch Race 400.
Driven by Erik Jones, the No. 43 car will carry the BEI logo as the primary sponsor twice more this season — at the Circuit of The Americas (Austin, Texas) on May 23, and at the Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway on June 20.
The Lonely Entrepreneur was founded by Michael Dermer, a New York business owner who has said he wants to provide business training to 1 million entrepreneurs worldwide, including 1,000 Black entrepreneurs starting immediately.
“We cannot change social and economic justice overnight, but we can empower Black men and women to be entrepreneurs today,” Dermer said in a statement.
Richard Petty Motorsports said it would sponsor 4,300 Black business owners by the end of 2022.
The Petty team’s No. 43 car was driven last year by Bubba Watson, NASCAR’s only full-time driver who identifies as Black. Watson left the Petty team at the end of last season after his contract expired. As protests flared nationwide following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Watson was outspoken in his support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. A pull rope fashioned into a noose later was found in his garage.
Brian Moffitt, the chief executive officer of Richard Petty Motorsports, said the team is committed to “diversity, equality and inclusion everywhere,”
“As a team, we continue to carry our message of compassion, love and understanding,” he said in a statement.
Black business owners can register for the Black Entrepreneur Initiative at https://lonelyentrepreneur.com/bei-rpm/.