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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

IN kids gain abilities in racing and life

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author Terri Dee, Anchor/Producer

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Wednesday, May 22, 2024   

The motor sports season is in full swing and back in 1991, two Indianapolis race fans started an organization to teach kids about more than speed.

The nonprofit NXG Youth Motorsports was formed by racing enthusiasts Rodney Reid and Charles Wilson. The two purchased go-carts for kids to race as a way to connect them to the popular sport.

Reid said young people gain decision-making abilities, conscientious driving habits, and knowledge about race cars from behind the wheel and under the hood.

"It wasn't just having kids drive a go-cart," Reid explained. "It was using the go-cart as a tool to teach three things. One, life skills; two, the application of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, applied arts and math) and STEM; and three, exposure to motor sports careers."

Among the graduates of the NXG program, 60% pursue postsecondary education. Reid emphasized there are plans for a multimillion-dollar hands-on hub for science, applied art and tech instruction on Indianapolis' westside. According to the site Businesequityindy.com, in 2019-2020, only 12% of all Black students graduating from college obtained a STEM degree.

Some inroads have been made to increase diversity on and off the track but progress has been slow. No Black driver has qualified at the Indy 500 since 2002. The website Zippia.com showed only 9% of race car mechanics are Black, almost 18% are Hispanic, and 5% are female.

Reid recounted experiences he and Wilson encountered at different tracks when registering cars for competitions.

"We ran into racism. That was at every turn," Reid recalled. "We'd get to a track, and we'd go to register and people would say, 'You can't register here,' because all the janitors and maintenance people are in a different building. They thought we were trying to register for a job."

As president of the Force Indy race team, Reid has seen some improvement with the industry embracing people of color and women. Currently, four Black males occupy rankings in the NASCAR series, although diversity in the industry's fan base remains low. According to Racer.com, 86% of race car competition spectators are white, and 7% are Black.


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