Roger Penske’s Race for Equality & Change initiative has its first official presence on the Road to Indy.
Rod Reid, director of the NXG Youth Motorsports diversity program aligned with the RE&C, will lead the new USF2000 team as its first African American owner. Dubbed ‘Force Indy,’ the outfit will rely on support and oversight from Team Penske during its formation and work from a base near Penske’s shop in North Carolina.
Force Indy is set to make its debut in March at the season opener in St. Petersburg with a single entry. A series of tests will be held in order to select its driver. The team is meant to be a reflection of the NTT IndyCar Series’ efforts to address its shortcomings with inclusivity, and says it will “focus on hiring and developing Black American men and women mechanics, engineers, staffers and drivers.”
Force Indy will also receive “guidance from Team Penske’s key personnel,” and “will use No. 99 on the car in honor of the late Dewey ‘Rajo Jack’ Gatson, who drove a roadster with that number toward the end of his career in 1951. Gatson, one of the winningest African American drivers and mechanics in racing history, never received an opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500.”
For Reid, the chance to complement decades of work in bringing motor racing to African American and multicultural youth into a dedicated Road To Indy team is a dream come true.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Penske, who recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of purchasing IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has been continually impressed with Reid’s vision and efforts to develop the RE&C into something meaningful and sustainable.
“When the IMS and IndyCar acquisition happened a year ago, I was pleased to learn of the work Rod Reid was doing,” Penske said. “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.”