Photo via: Derrell Edwards / HANDOUT
Derrell Edwards recently made history as the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity program member to be a part of a winning Daytona 500 pit crew for driver, Austin Dillon. According to NASCAR, Edwards is also believed to be the first African American to win a Daytona race as an over-the-wall crew member.
The 26-year-old former High Point University basketball standout stumbled upon an opportunity join the pit crew with NASCAR Hall of Famer, Richard Childress’ team. That same year, he had lead the High Point University basketball team to a Big South championship win. The opportunity to explore a new and highly competitive sport peaked his interest and thus began his journey into the world of NASCAR.
He earned an internship with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) during the spring of his senior year in college and after graduation spent a year learning the craft of serving in a pit crew with the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) series before having the opportunity to move up to the Xfinity series servicing RCR driver, Brendan Gaughan. He was hired full-time with Menard Racing in 2017 as a tire changer and has been an active member of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program since 2016.
One of the veteran tire changers on the team remarked to Edwards: “Honestly, you won’t really understand what you've done for another 20 years." Without the long history of involvement in the sport as some of his colleagues, Edwards is still trying to wrap his mind around his recent accomplishment and what it means for the future of racing.
Derrell Edwards made history on Sunday becoming the first African-American to win a #Daytona500 as an over-the-wall crew member. The #NASCARD4D pit crew alum is a jackman for @austindillon3's team. #BlackHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/kgrHtF48FU— NASCAR Drive for Diversity (@NASCARDiversity) February 21, 2018
"Without any background of NASCAR it hasn't sunk in to the point it would if I had been a racer all my life. But as an athlete, I've been an athlete all my life so it’s definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever felt," Edwards shared. He goes on to say “I believe it’s happening for a reason and I'm getting this platform for a reason, and it’s probably a story that needs to be shared and told to kids that are back in places like Baltimore where I'm from, that think there isn’t any hope."
Congratulations, Derrell! Keep up the great work inspiring generations to come to consider a career in the exciting world of race car driving.