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roger penske AP Photo/Mel Evans
AP Photo/Mel Evans

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) ? Team Penske will mentor a new entry in the IndyCar ladder series that will be owned by a Black businessman as part of a new ?Race for Equality & Change? initiative.

Force Indy will compete in the USF2000 Series, which is part of the ?Road to Indy? system that leads to IndyCar scholarship opportunities. The team is owned by Rod Reid, who runs the NXG Youth Motorsports program that has introduced karting at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to more than 2,300 underprivileged racers.

Force Indy plans to hire and develop Black mechanics, engineers and drivers throughout its entire team.

?I started a race team in 1984, and I have always had a desire to have a team of talented individuals who look like me in the professional ranks of the sport,? Reid said at Thursday’s announcement.

The team will use No. 99 to honor Dewey Gatson, who drove a roadster with that number. Gatson, considered one of the first Black racers in America, won events all over the United States but never had a chance to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

Force Indy will spend its first season based in Concord, North Carolina, to work closely with Team Penske.

Roger Penske, who owns the team along with IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, backed the ?Race for Equality & Change? initiative and learned of Reid’s work at the speedway with youngsters when he purchased the venue last year. The initiative, announced in July, is aimed at recruiting and developing a diverse workforce throughout all levels of IndyCar and the speedway.

?We are fortunate to have Team Penske offer guidance and race-winning experience,? Reid said. ?Roger?s experience will be an invaluable resource in creating a successful organization. There?s no better time than now to start a team.?

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