Move over Felix and Oscar, this fall television will have a new odd couple: NASCAR and BET.
In an attempt to improve its image as “the sport of rednecks,” the new NASCAR docu-reality series, “Changing Lanes” (not the Ben Affleck - Sam Jackson thriller) will focus on the company’s “Drive for Diversity” program. The program backs female and minority drivers who compete in feeder circuits.
Former record executive-turned-stock car insider Max Siegel is the one responsible for this groundbreaking pairing. Siegel is also a former president of Dale Earnhadt, Inc, and desperately wants to “see more opportunities created in NASCAR for people of color.”
BET ordered 10 episodes that will begin to air this fall.
One wonders how this idea will pan out, considering the obstacles that a show like this will have to overcome. First of all, the NASCAR reality shows rarely become mainstream hits. Ever heard of “NASCAR Drivers 360” or “NASCAR Wives”? Didn’t think so.
Secondly, there is the elephant in the room. NASCAR is considered a “white” sport, and I have to wonder how BET’s audience will react to a show about racing, even if it will predominately feature minority drivers, such as Michael Cherry. Siegel is confident however, noting that NASCAR has done a lot off the track to diversify its audience, including more programs such as “Drive for Diversity.”
Let’s face it: racing could use a little diversity in the public eye. No sport’s audience is stereotyped as much as NASCAR is.