Minnesotan leads charge in NASCAR social change
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 SKF Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, lead the field past the green flag to start the weather delayed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Last month, the Sports Business Journal named NASCAR as the Pro Sports League of the Year for the first time ever. One of the driving forces behind NASCAR’s big year is a Minnesota native. Eric Nyquist grew up in Albert Lea and went to college at Carleton in Northfield, where he played college football. He is the senior vice president and chief communications and social responsibility officer for NASCAR. He helped them become the first sport to get back to competition out of the pandemic, the first sport to allow fans at events, and even more importantly, led a sweeping change in NASCAR’s general attitude toward social justice issues. One of Nyquist’s responsibilities was helping navigate the sport through the pandemic, as well as banning the confederate flag at its events. He calls removing the confederate flag from the sport is the highlight of his career. He says they’ve made NASCAR a more inclusive sport in the past year and that has been rewarding.