Daniel Suárez: A Latino in Nascar
The triumph of a Latino at a U.S. sporting competition has long ago ceased to be singular. For years now, Latinos have had a large number of representatives at the highest levels of sports disciplines like baseball, basketball, football and, of course, soccer.
However, and until only a few months ago, there was one discipline that had no Latinos at the top: NASCAR.. That is, until Daniel Suárez, the first fulltime competitive Latino driver arrived on the scene.
A native of Monterrey, Nuevo León (Mexico), Suárez tells AL DÍA News that his relationship with cars goes back to his early years. “I have been involved with automobiles my whole life. My family wasn’t involved in racing, but my father has an antique car restoration shop so, since I was very young I have been involved with automobiles, repairs, tools, etc.,” Suárez says.
However, it was not until he turned 10 that a good friend introduced him to the world of racing, in Mexico. From there, he went on to the U.S. and also to Europe. “Things evolved. What started out practically as a game started to become a bit more professional.”
But his career was really jumpstarted by his participation in “Drive for diversity,” a program created by NASCAR to introduce the sport of racing to minority drivers. “NASCAR has done very good work in development and diversity programs. I believe that was one of the things that helped me a lot a few years ago,” Suárez said. “Today, thanks to what we did to take advantage of this opportunity, many Mexican drivers believe in this project when before they knew nothing about it”, Suárez said.
In 2015 he took up his final leap up to the Nascar Xfinity Series, along with Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series, even winning first place in Daytona. “This has been a very positive year, with very good results. We are currently in the top 10 of the general championship with a lot of possibilities to be in the top 5. We are leading in the “Rookie of the Year” championship. And those were the goals at the beginning of the year, but it is like with everything else, when you start doing things well and you want to do more and more. I think that we are now in that position”.
According to Suárez, his experience in the country, in which he has resided for almost four years now, has been very positive. “I arrived in the U.S. without much assistance, with the desire to do things but not knowing exactly what one needs to do. And so they help you to give yourself the opportunity, and from there you can begin to fly solo”.
“I really enjoy it a lot. I have received a lot of support from many people, and I generally like it a lot. I arrived three and a half to four years ago with nothing, I didn’t even speak English…. So, to get to this point after a few years, to be able to have the opportunities one has, that speaks of all the good of coming to the U.S.”
We asked Suárez if he believes that during the next few years more Latino drivers will follow in his footsteps. “Not next year, but in future years, I am sure. There are several young drivers in Mexico that have been doing things well and can reach this point if they continue to work hard. And in fact, they are working to be a part of the ‘Drive for diversity’ program.’ “I have always thought that a base must be laid down; one driver does it first so that other drivers can be certain that it is the right way,” he said. “There have been many Latino drivers that have come to the U..S during the last 10 years, but for one reason or another, have not returned […] At present, I believe that things are on our side, and when things have worked out, there will be people in Mexico who want to follow the same trajectory that has worked for us.