NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – He didn’t intend to make history.
A self-proclaimed curious person, Erik Moses simply saw a job that sparked his interest.
“I can’t imagine chasing a particular job or opportunity just because you want to make history,” he said.
Unintentionally, Moses did exactly that by becoming the first Black NASCAR track president.
“To be the first at anything professionally is a humbling honor to have. As I’ve said many times, I’m not naive enough to think I’m the first person of color who is qualified enough to do this job.”
The job is revitalizing the previously-dormant Nashville Superspeedway. Breathing life into a track that closed in 2011 is his sole focus, but he’s also aware of the unfair stigma and judgement that can come with being the first.
“The history-making part is secondary and as you can imagine that comes with a lot of pressure, right? I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who think I got hired simply because it was history-making.”
Although he has no previous NASCAR experience, Moses was hired because of his history working with major venues. He plans to use the track for more than racing, but understands the importance of the track’s primary use.
“I was intrigued by it because I thought there was plenty of opportunity to bring some innovation, some new thinking, maybe some new ideas to a sport that is really, really popular. But, like all sports, could use some expansion of its fan base and could possibly use some different ways of thinking about how we reach fans.”
Moses’ history-making hire comes at a time when NASCAR has undergone major changes. In the last year, the sport hasn’t backed down from issues of social justice. From the banning of the confederate flag to what appeared to be a noose hanging in Bubba Wallace’s stall, like the peers who walked alongside him, NASCAR didn’t react quietly.
“I have to say, I am so proud to be involved in this sport that has taken the business risk, and taken it on willingly, to take a stance on some social justice issues that could be bad for their business at least short-term. They are doing it because it’s the right thing,” said Moses. “We’re not only involved in conversations that this sport may not have been involved in 5 years ago, certainly not 10 years ago, we’re leading those conversations.”
Taking a page out of NASCAR’s recent playbook, for him, it’s not just about change. The focus is growth.
“We don’t want to change the sport. We want to embrace it for what it is and we want other people to embrace it. I can’t imagine if I love a sport, why I wouldn’t want other people as many as possible from all walks of life to love my sport and appreciate it as well?”
As a newcomer working in the sport and a person of color, Moses hopes to bring new perspective to racing.
“The way I think about things may just be a little bit different because of my lived experiences. So if we’re doing marketing, I’m going to make certain that women and people of color are in the marketing. People need to see themselves in what you’re doing so that they know, especially in a sport where they assume that they’re not welcome, that they are welcome. Not only welcome, but that we want you here.”
Moses understands the gravity, but welcomes it. He feels the weight of the job, yes, but he also feels the weight of being a trailblazer.
“It’s another reason why I’m really committed to doing a great job here because if we’re viewing this as a door being cracked open, I want to do my part to push it all the way open.”