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IMS working to make environment as diverse as America

"When we say, 'Back Home Again in Indiana,' it means back home for you as well," senior counsel and chief diversity officer Jimmie McMillian said.
Credit: Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski
Jimmie McMillian acts as senior corporate counsel for INDYCAR and the IMS, while also being the chief diversity officer for Penske Entertainment.

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — For 17 years, Jimmie McMillian has been a part of the Indy 500. Now, he serves as counsel and chief diversity officer for Penske Entertainment, which includes the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After having some life difficulties during college, McMillian started working at a Firestone store. That's when his coworkers brought him to his first race, and that's how he got hooked on motor sports.

Blending his passion and his profession, he now helps the IMS with diversity training and implementing programs for kids to learn about racing and careers within the industry.

"There are a number of reasons we feel like there is a block [with minority communities]. One is we haven't engaged with that community. This track, this series hasn't had the need or felt like they had the obligation to engage. Instead it’s been like, 'Hey, we open the doors. We run the cars, and those who are interested will come,'" McMillian said.

McMillian said he wants everything about IMS — the fans, the environment, the employees, the volunteers — to reflect America.

"We want to make sure that we're doing the outreach necessary to make sure that all of our citizens feel welcome here and also enjoy what we have to offer," McMillian said.

Inclusivity is the goal — making sure everyone knows the Indianapolis 500 is an experience that they should have and feel good about. 

"I want you to know that we are being successful, but it can only work with your help and your engagement. We want you to come here and have the time of your life," McMillian said. "We want you to start your family traditions here and have your family reunions here. We want you to come listen to Morris Day and the Time. We want you to come and dance and sing, be wowed and awed. I want you to bring your children. So they can learn about being an engineer and cheer on Rod Reid and Miles Rowe — our African American drivers and owners. So that when we say 'Back Home Again in Indiana,' it means back home for you as well," McMillian said.

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