In a historic first, NASCAR is partnering with a prominent LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce as part of the auto racing league’s broadening commitment to foster more inclusion in the sport.

NASCAR announced Wednesday it will partner with the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, becoming the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion partner for 2022. The partnership will benefit the LGBTQ group’s training and education programs focused on equity and inclusion throughout the majority of the Carolinas.

Partnering with NASCAR made sense to Tiffany Keaton, Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce vice chair, due to the stock car racing giant’s prominence and history in the region. Charlotte has served as the league’s media hub for more than a decade, but Keaton’s outlook for working with NASCAR goes beyond the league’s history. He’s focused on creating a more equitable future.

“The intentionality of their partnership will allow the Carolinas LGBT+ Chamber to leverage relationships and increase our work in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Keaton said. “The distinct brand that NASCAR brings to the chamber validates their commitment to equality and non-discrimination both on and off the track.”

Partnering with the chamber is the latest step in NASCAR’s efforts to become a more inclusive organization. The league recently made a substantial donation to the chamber last December, and has implemented policies aimed at creating a more welcoming environment at events.

NASCAR banned Confederate flags from all racetracks in 2020 and has spoken out against anti-LGBTQ legislation in North Carolina and Indiana over the last decade.

But that doesn’t mean NASCAR has been perfect. Former NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France famously spoke at a campaign rally for Donald Trump in 2016, while he was voicing tepid opposition to North Carolina’s anti-trans “bathroom bill” HR2. Six years later, the league is showing more commitment to the mission of equality.

Race days have also gotten a taste of the rainbow treatment as well, with out driver Devin Rouse making his NASCAR debut in 2021, racing in the Camping World Truck Series. Out driver Zach Herrin is also set to compete in the league’s ARCA Menards Series in 2022.

“With NASCAR offices and much of our industry based in the Carolinas, we look forward to working with CLGBTCC in support of its mission to foster equity, inclusion and economic prosperity for the LGBTQ community,” said Brandon Thompson, NASCAR vice president of diversity and inclusion.

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