LAST MONTH, Jusan Hamilton, 26, made history by becoming the first African-American to serve as a race director for a NASCAR national series event, controlling on-track activity in last month’s XFINITY Series race.
The New York native and former short track racer grew up working on cars in his grandfather’s garage, and he has been in love with motorsports ever since.
Though his dreams of driving all the way from upstate New York’s dirt tracks to the bright lights of NASCAR didn’t work out, he focused on a career behind the scenes of racing.
He hit a milestone on March 25 when he debuted as a NASCAR race director for the Xfinity Series event at Fontana. He is the first black race director in NASCAR history.
“I never really thought of [being the first African-American national series race director] in those terms. I’m proud of it, and I’m really thankful for the team in the control tower,” Jusan told Nascar.com
What started as a Drive for Diversity internship with the sanctioning body’s Integrated Marketing Communications department has turned into a four-year tenure with NASCAR, primarily working in race operations and event management.
His job as race director includes making split-second decisions regarding officiating, safety and emergency services.
“I’ve wanted to work in professional racing since I was a kid watching Kevin Harvick,’’ he said. “I’m very fortunate to have this opportunity. I’ve had the chance to learn so many different areas of the sport and business, that’s one of the things that’s best about working with NASCAR.
“Being race director is similar to being the quarterback in football – you have to know your job and the jobs of every other team member to be successful.”
Except for an occasional stint in an iRacing simulator, the newlywed (he married his high school sweetheart just weeks before making history) doesn’t have much time to get behind the wheel. He’s too busy driving his own career forward.
“I want to continue to be a successful race director, and I’d like to stay with the company somewhere on the competition side,” Juasan told AP. “Anything that allows me to positively influence the sport, that would be my goal.”