Monday, March 04, 2013

Nicole Lyons Sets Her Sights on NASCAR

Nicole Lyons
Amidst the slew of depressing discussion about toxic Congressional dysfunction and the impact of The Sequester, I watched a pretty fascinating interview on CNN with aspiring NASCAR driver Nicole Lyons.

Lyons is one of the latest African-Americans (and select few females) making inroads into the exclusive male-dominated ranks of American auto racing.

She joined the cast of Speed TV's Car Warriors in 2011 and has  been attracting media attention for years as an accomplished and talented NHRA drag racer, but has literally been driving since she was 7 years old. Her father was the infamous and influential Los Angeles, CA street racing legend Jack Davis and she's been hooked on speed since she was 2 years old when he took her for an 11-second pass down the 1/4 mile strip in her car-seat.

Lyons inherited her father's love and knowledge of race car engines and in addition to her skills behind the wheel she's also an accomplished custom hot rod builder and owner of Cole Muscle Cars, a Sylmar, California-based car restoration shop staffed by female mechanics.

According to the CNN interview earlier today, Lyons isn't just content with being a successful businesswoman and car builder. After mastering several different classes of NHRA drag racers, she's been testing NASCAR race cars and is looking to make her mark on the nation's most popular racing circuit.  For me, a black guy who's always been into hot rods, racing and custom American cars, it's really encouraging to see African-Americans distinguishing themselves in the ranks of American motor sports.

Three months ago back on December 8, 2012 Paul Franklin wrote a nice feature in the Trenton Times on drag racer Antron Brown, who became the first African-American winner of a major auto racing title when he was crowned the NHRA Top Fuel World Champion in November, 2012. Like Lyons, Brown also had early exposure to racing from family members who were into the sport. The Trenton native was the son and nephew of African-American race car drivers and graduated from Northern Burlington High School in New Jersey and was the first person in NHRA history to earn titles in both Top Fuel and Pro Stock Motorcycle.  

On a day when Rep. John Lewis joined Vice President Joe Biden in leading marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a re-enactment of the notorious march for voting rights on "Bloody Sunday" back in 1965, it's encouraging to see people of color making an impact and finding success in different segments of American auto racing. Change is exciting.

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