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'Force Indy' is making history and bringing diversity to racing

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Posted at 1:15 PM, May 05, 2023

"Force Indy" is a partnership that sprouted during the pandemic and continues to grow nearly three years later.

Their goal is to bring more diversity to racing by recruiting people of color and women to an industry that is made up of mostly white men.

Derrick Morris knows the ins and outs of a race car.

He's had a thing for them since he was just a little kid, when his dad took him to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he was 12 years old.

"I had never seen anything go that fast before," Morris said, "So, I was hooked."

Now, at age 29, he's a crew chief for "Force Indy", responsible for maintenance, assembly and the overall performance physically of the race car.

He was working on police cruisers at the city garage when he said he received the call that changed his life.

"I got super excited because i thought my dream of being in motorsports was dead," Morris recalls, "And it was kind of like a dream come true getting that phone call."

That phone call came from Rod Reid, who has known Morris since he was 13 years old.

Morris had taken part in Reid's youth motorsports program.

Reid quickly recognized his talents as a young racer and respected Morris' move to eventually shift to mechanics.

"He had the wherewithal to move into the mechanics with going to school, high-performance engine school and studying," Reid said, "And so, he was a no-brainer when I decided to start Force Indy."

Now, Morris is part of the growing team that founded by Rod Reid and Roger Penske in October 2020, as an effort to get more Black and Brown people and women into all aspects of racing.

"There was not a presence of Blacks in motorsports," Reid says, "And I'm not talking about just drivers. I'm talking about throughout the paddock. There weren't team owners. There weren't crew chiefs or mechanics."

Reid calls it a travesty, being in the motorsport's capitol of the world with little representation of people who looked like him.

He's spent the last two and a half years, not only building a team, but also watching it excel, making history in the USF Pro 2000 Series and the IndyNXT Series.   

In fact, in August 2021, "Force Indy" driver Myles Rowe's win in New Jersey earned him the distinction of becoming the first Black driver to win an IndyCar-sanctioned event.

But this is a team sport that goes beyond sitting behind the wheel of a race car.

Reid emphasizes there are so many specialties that support motorsports, including marketing, mechanics, public relations and healthcare.

The goal is to grow and groom this team to rise in the IndyCar ranks to eventually race in the Indy 500 and races like it.