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NAME: DeWayne Cassel
OCCUPATION: Race Car Driver
LOCATION: Peoria, Illinois
SALARY RANGE: Range: $100,000 to $5 million at the Champ series level
“We [African Americans] don’t race; we play basketball,” were the negative comments DeWayne Cassel received in his pursuit of becoming a race car driver. As early as 7 years old, Cassel, 41, pictured himself suited for the track.
Today, Cassel is entering his second season as a driver with the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship Series (www .toyotaatlantic.com). CART (Championship Auto Racing Teams) is a feeding or three-step ladder program in which racers graduate to the Champ Car series featuring the international stars of racing. Casssel is at the second level.
Training: “It didn’t happen overnight,” Cassel admits. “I kept focused,” even as he studied information systems at North Central College, in Naperville, Illinois, and then worked in technology at COVIA, a subsidiary of United Airlines in Rosemont.
There, he met a co-worker who introduced him to a racing school in Monterey, California. He began courses in 1986. Over two years, Cassel spent more than $15,000 on insurance, class and racing fees, hotel rooms, and travel. He eventually ran out of money.
Opportunity: Cassel needed a sponsor. It happened in 1998. Rick Schulte, a former professional football player and president of Priority Staffing, an African American employment company in Tempe, Arizona, signed him. That deal allowed Cassel to test race and sharpen his skills.
In July 2000, he made his professional debut in the CART Toyota Atlantic, Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland. Last April, ADT Security Services and Tyco International Ltd., a manufacturing and service company became sponsors.
In his marketing package, he included his own organization, Racing to Make a Difference Dream Development Program (www.casselracing.com), which encourages children from economically challenged backgrounds to pursue their desires. “If it weren’t for people constantly supporting my dream, I wouldn’t be doing this.”
For more information on race car driving, visit these sites:
www.racingschools.com Located in Cave Creek, Arizona, it lists more than 100 racing schools nationwide. Call 480-659-9102.
www.racingjobs.com Offers resources and listings for job opportunities.