In recent years, fans have gotten in an uproar that drivers who have a loaded wallet are stealing rides from supreme talents that have no financial backing. JR Motorsports and GMS Racing announced a new initiative that should level the playing field for those who don’t have big-time bucks behind them called Drivers Edge Development.
The program will be backed by Chevrolet, and it seems to be solely performance-based. The manufacturer and the two race teams will do what they can to give shots to deserving drivers to help build a great next generation of NASCAR race car drivers.
“We have always prided ourselves on being a stepping stone for drivers that want to get to the top-level of racing,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., JRM team owner. “JR Motorsports was designed with that in mind, and now with the help of GMS and Chevrolet, Drivers Edge Development will provide a clear-cut path and more options for drivers to get there.”
According to a press release, the program benefits will extend past track time for the young drivers as it will include off-track items as well.
The release states:
Drivers will have access to a host of programs focusing on their physical, mental and technical development. An emphasis will be placed on educating them in areas such as brand building, social media and digital content, media training and fan relations as well as support for partner procurement and retention.
This is an amazing service for drivers who may be excellent at wheeling a car, but don’t necessarily possess great business acumen.
The program will be open — ideally — to drivers between the ages of 14 and 21, and there are already six drivers enrolled in the program: Noah Gragson, John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith, Sheldon Creed, Sam Mayer and Adam Lemke.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to get this program off the ground,” said Mike Beam, GMS team president. “Between GMS and JRM, I feel our two programs are very complementary of each other and will give Drivers Edge Development participants multiple series options.
“We have to give Lorin Ranier some credit, too. He has been working behind the scenes and is a great help in scouting drivers for the program. He is really plugged into the local and regional short-track scene and has already worked with some of the drivers in the program.”
One more added benefit to the program, which will include drivers from late models to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series, is that they will receive mentoring from experienced veterans at JRM and GMS Racing.
“Drivers Edge Development is going to be critical to the future of the sport and our race team,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, JRM general manager. “The fact that you have JRM, GMS and Chevrolet involved in getting this off the ground speaks to that importance.
“We’re emphasizing on-track experience in multiple series while still keeping the drivers under the Chevrolet umbrella. Off track, we’re going to offer these drivers decades of industry knowledge and best practices with the goal of helping them become the best versions of themselves in all aspects of the sport.”
This is a truly interesting announcement and it will be fascinating to see how this plays out for the young drivers who come through the program.