Among the eight drivers selected for this year's class, the fifth season of NASCAR's on-track developmental program, are Michael Cherry, an 18-year-old African American from Valrico, Fla., and Kristin Mumbera, a 20-year-old woman from Sealy, Texas.
Cherry, who has been racing a short four years, says he got his start in a different way.
"BMX was what got me wanting to race," Cherry says. "I watched my dad (Jimmy Cherry) race since I was 12 or 13, but he told me I couldn't race until I was at least 16, and finally, he let me get in the car."
Although his career has been brief, Cherry's auto-racing career has been quite successful.
Cherry got his start in the Street Stock Division at East Bay Raceway in Tampa, Fla., where in his first career on the circuit, he finished the season Seventh in points. He was also recognized that year as being not only the youngest, but also the first African-American to compete at East Bay.
One more successful season at East Bay gave way to a year of running in the Limited Late Model and Late Model Divisions at Hendry County Speedway.
Cherry's success at Hendry County earned him an invitation in 2006, to the "Drive for Diversity" Testing and Evaluation Combine, his first test in a NASCAR Camping World Series car.
The 2007 season must have seemed like a fairy tale for Cherry, who took 17 wins and 19 Top 5s in 19 starts in the Sportsman Division Championship.
While BMX and a brief stint in football as a youth were all fine and well for Cherry, nothing compares to getting behind the wheel of a car.
"The sound of a motor really just turns my key on," says Cherry, who will be in the driver's seat of the No. 34 Late Model for Frank Deiny, Jr. Motorsports in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.
Bumbera, a slender, super-model-like blonde, isn't as new on the scene as Cherry.
She got her start at the ripe-old age of 7, racing carts and tried to climb the ladder from one motorsport to another.
"I wanted to keep moving up when I could," Bumbera says. "By the time I was 15, I had moved to Late Models."
In 1998, as the only female competitor in the Super Mini-Cup Division at Houston Motorsports Park, Bumbera won every race, the circuit's championship, and was named Rookie of the Year.
Bumbera races for team owner Frank Jordan and Golden State Racing, Inc., in the ASA Pro Late Model Series. Last season as a rookie, she managed five Top 5s and 11 Top 10s and also became the first female driver to ever lead the point standings in a Texas Late Model series.
Joining Cherry and Bumbera as part of the 2008 "Drive for Diversity" class is Michael Gallegos of Wheat Ridge, Colo.; Paul Harraka of Fairlawn, N.J.; Jesus Hernandez of Fresno, Calif.; Lindsey King of Cherry Valley, Calif.; Lloyd Mack of Los Angeles, Calif.; and Jonathan Smith of Beach Falls, Conn.