Tia Norfleet has been hailed as the only African-American female NASCAR driver and has received considerable media attention. That would be good except for one thing: Norfleet is not sanctioned to participate in NASCAR races.
It seems the striking driver has been overstating her position. Norfleet is licensed to participate in bottom- tier races that are neither NASCAR nor sanctioned by NASCAR, according to the New York Times.
Norfleet, the Times reported, can compete at local and regional events that are unregulated by NASCAR. She has not earned NASCAR’s approval to move up to one of its national touring series. And there is a simple reason for that. In the one sanctioned event she participated in, she completed just one lap before quitting. Not good.
On her website, the Times noted, her racing schedule lists the 2013 Nationwide Series calendar, along with photos of her in a fire suit with the Nationwide Series logo. The photo was cute, but that is NASCAR’s second-tier series – and she has not been approved for that level.
Recognize that NASCAR officials are not thrilled with Norfleet’s obvious misleading.
“Ms. Norfleet is one of thousands of individuals who have purchased licenses in the late model division of our sport,” NASCAR Vice President for Public Affairs and Multicultural Development Marcus Jadotte wrote in an email to the Times. “I am uncomfortable with attempts Ms. Norfleet and her representatives have made to forgo the sport’s development process.”
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When Norfleet was contacted by the Times, she said she raced in nonsanctioned races “all the time,” which is different from being a NASCAR driver.
Even in her successes, there are conflicts. She boasts 37 wins in 52 starts. But an ESPNW article claimed those victories came in a drag-racing series. A Washington Post story said the wins were in a late-model series – another significant discrepancy.
Not only that, but apparently Norfleet has somewhat of a criminal past, according to the Times. Public documents indicate that Tia Norfleet’s full name is Shauntia Latrice Norfleet, and that she has a criminal record in Virginia and Georgia. The charges on her record include assault and drug-related offenses.
Perhaps Norfleet will one day clear up these inconsistencies and truly become the first African-American woman driver in NASCAR. Perhaps.