BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – Stan and Jordan Cannon have enjoyed going to NASCAR races for years together.
Stan Cannon moved to the Tri-Cities from Florida decades ago where he began to support Darrell Waltrip in the 1980s. After watching some races on television, the Kingsport resident decided to head over to Bristol to watch his first race in person.
His love for the sport was passed on to his son, Jordan.
Jordan Cannon told News Channel 11 that the love for anything racing runs deep in the Cannon family.
“I enjoyed cars going fast,” Jordan Cannon said. “It was just another thing for me to watch.”
However, both Stan and Jordan explained that one thing was very noticeable about the sport that they love: The lack of fellow minorities.
The sport lacked minority drivers and fans for many of its early years, particularly when the elder Cannon began watching. The stereotypes from those around him began to set in.
“I’ve heard all kinds of different things,” Stan Cannon said. “Some say, ‘NASCAR? Why would you go watch that?'”
This was the same for Jordan Cannon growing up. He said that he had mixed emotions about attending a race in person because he was unsure about how he’d be received.
“I was excited and a little bit nervous,” Jordan Cannon said. “You’ve heard rumors about you may not be accepted at the track because I look different.”
Jordan went on to explain that his experience at Bristol was fantastic, despite his fears.
Jordan and many other people of color found a home in a Facebook group named ‘Black NASCAR fans.’ The group was created at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and has gained traction over the past year.
Its co-founder, Jason Boykin, said that he attended a race and noticed a big interest amongst minority fans. He said that he wanted to give those fans an outlet.
“Tons of Hispanic fans and quite a few African American fans,” Boykin said. “It was a much more diverse grandstand than you think.”
Diversity has slowly grown on the track and in the stands. Drivers like Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suarez are in the top series of NASCAR and a growing base of minority fans are taking interest.