Updated on October 14, 2022

On Saturday, October 8, coinciding with NASCAR’s Race for the Cure presentation (an event designed to heighten awareness of breast cancer) the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce and NASCAR came together to present LGBT+ Day at NASCAR Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Members of the LGBTQ community were urged to attend for the combined elements of a pre-party business and social networking event, the sport of racing and celebration of LGBTQ History Month.

As a city, Charlotte has been known for many things over the years. At one time the CLT had the largest number of churches per capita than any other city in the country. During that same period, Charlotte was also twice recognized as the national murder and crime capital of the country. 

Since the late 1800s and well into the 1970s, Charlotte was one of the leading textile manufacturers in the nation, as well as home to the country’s top producing iron pipe foundry. By the 1990s it became a leader in finance and remains the second largest financial center in the country.

In the late 1940s, NASCAR held its first stock race car competition on a wooden track off Wilkinson Boulevard, not far from where The Woodshed, a nightclub popular with the city’s local gay male community, stands today.

Although many of those claims to fame have long since come and gone, the NASCAR label is one that has stuck around. Multiple movies have been shot here about race car driving (“Days of Thunder” with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman; and “Speedway” with Nancy Sinatra and Elvis Presley, among others) and Lowe’s Motor Speedway continues to attract fans of the sport from around the globe.

In years past, NASCAR has not always been a particularly warm and welcoming sport for LGBTQ fans or participants. In 2022, that’s no longer the case. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, and representatives from NASCAR are downright enthusiastic about it.

“Last year we partnered with the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, and we’ve really wanted to do something like this,” says Caryn Grant, NASCAR’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion. “It’s important to be inclusive of the community, and we want to provide a fun and entertaining experience for fans of this sport.”

Grant is clearly energized about NASCAR’s involvement with the LGBTQ community. “This [was] our first of these type of events,” she explained. “It’s exciting. And earlier this year, we were a sponsor of Pride and we had a car in the parade.”

Additionally, NASCAR has been active with the Florida LGBTQ community, participating in the Rainbow Parade, which is designed to commemorate the lives of those lost in the Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando in June, 2016.

Although LGBTQ presence in NASCAR professionally is still somewhat limited, fans of the sport will be happy to know out driver Devon Rouse is a frequent participant in NASCAR sanctioned events and Jay Houston and Ryan Hines, an openly gay couple, both work for the NASCAR garage.

Partners in work and life: Jay Houston (left) and Ryan Hines. (Screen Capture)

The gates for NASCAR’s Drive for the Cure 250 opened at 1:00 p.m. The Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce business and social networking mixer began at 2 p.m. with the race followed at 3 p.m.

From all indications, the mixer was a success and a sizable LGBTQ contingent showed up for the racing event.

David Aaron Moore

David Aaron Moore is a former editor of Qnotes, serving in the role from 2003 to 2007. He is currently the senior content editor and a regularly contributing writer for Qnotes. Moore is a native of North...

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