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Culture Exchange Highlight
Athlete Profile: A.J. Russell, NASCAR driver
When most people think of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR), they think of racers who follow in the footsteps of previous generations. But that stereotype does not fit A.J. Russell, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver. A.J. is special, not only because he is a first-generation racer, but he is also a member of the Cherokee Nation, making him one of the first Native Americans to ever race in the highest three levels of NASCAR.
A.J. got his start in Clovis, CA, at the age of 7. His career began on dirt tracks in California and eventually, he began competing in Arizona. When A.J. turned 15, he began racing trucks on asphalt and won Rookie of the Year. While he continued to find success racing on the West Coast, A.J. knew to achieve his dream of racing in NASCAR, he would need to move out East.
In 2010, A.J. moved to North Carolina and began racing for Sacred Power Motorsports (SPM). David Melton, a tribal member of the Pueblo of Laguna, village of Paguate, founded SPM, which is the first Native American owned NASCAR team. Over the next several years, A.J. and David hope to make their way to the highest level of NASCAR, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Eventually, A.J. hopes the SPM team will be able to employ an entire crew whose heritage is Native American.
Read more stories about A.J. Russell at http://n.pr/uVBjYr or http://bit.ly/tB2rJj.