African-Americans racing for the National Guard

BH Motorsports, which will be the first African-American owned NASCAR Winston Cup team [July 18], will debut a Chevrolet Monte Carlo in three races this season with sponsorship from the US Army National Guard. The sponsorship will continue into a full programme with an African-American driver in 2003. The team, owned by Sam Belnavis and Tinsley Hughes, will be assisted by Hendrick Motorsports, which already operates four Winston Cup cars

African-Americans racing for the National Guard

Hendrick will help with chassis, engines, pit crew training and other resources of its Hendrick Motorsports Complex in Harrisburg, NC. ''It's our duty to try to make this work,'' said team owner Rick Hendrick. ''We'll open up our resources to them and let them use what we have. And I believe there will be other car owners who will step up and help make this happen.''

Belnavis said at a Lowe's Motor Speedway media conference: ''We were constantly knocking on doors. It was so frustrating to know we possessed the skills, the tools and the knowledge to run in Winston Cup, but we couldn't get a door to open. Rick Hendrick is the number one reason we're here today."

Temporary driver Ron Hornaday will race the car at Charlotte, Atlanta and Rockingham carrying No54, signifying the 50 states and four territories from which the National Guard draws its reserves. BH will work with the National Guard on a Driver Diversity Development programme to groom minorities and women for Winston Cup drives. Belnavis said they probably would achieve that by entering cars in the ARCA stock car series.

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