Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Former Vandy linebacker has Hispanic dreams for NASCAR

The Los Angeles Times reports that Armando Fitz, who used to play football for Vanderbilt University, dreams of an all-Hispanic NASCAR team:

"NASCAR, despite its announced 'Drive for Diversity,' would be hard pressed to find 25 Latinos in its top three divisions. But if a list were made, Adrian Fernandez and Armando Fitz would be at the top."

"But who is Fitz?"

"He is a Cuban, who, according to NASCAR, is the only minority owner of a team in its three elite levels - Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck."

"Fitz, 40, will have three Dodges in today's Busch race at California Speedway, the Ameriquest 300. The drivers are David Stremme in No. 14, Stanton Barrett in No. 40 and Carlos Contreras in No. 12."

"'What I would like, my dream you might call it, is to have an all-Hispanic team - driver, crew chief, mechanics, even the [public relations] person,' Fitz said over lunch at the Beverly-Wilshire. 'It might be a while yet because young Mexicans and other Hispanics never think of jobs in racing as a lifestyle because they are not aware of the opportunities. I think now, with a Busch race in Mexico and with well-known drivers like Adrian, Michel and Carlos racing regularly, it might change. It'll take a while, but I'm working on it.'"

"Fitz ... was a linebacker at Vanderbilt for four years."

"Fitz left Cuba in 1967 when he was 2, arriving in Miami with his parents with nothing but the clothes on their backs."

"'My parents owned several sugar plantations and retail businesses in Cuba, but when [Fidel] Castro began to take possession of them, they decided it would be better to take their chances over here,' Fitz said. 'They couldn't speak a word of English. My first language was Spanish.'"

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