By CHRISTOPHER SORBEY
Derek White’s blazing a trail for future First Nations stock car racers with first-career Sprint Cup Series start at New Hampshire.
Whe the green flag drops on Sunday at New Hampshire, it will mark the first time in NASCAR history that a driver of First Nations descent will be a part of the 43-car field. White, a Mohawk from Kahnawake, Quebec, is set to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut Sunday, piloting the No. 33 car owned by Circle Sport Racing.
White first broke the news on Twitter earlier in the week.
“Big news. I’ll be in the #33 car Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire Speedway next Sunday,” White tweeted.
I had an opportunity to speak with Mr. White earlier in the week, and he told me this is a tremendous opportunity, not only for his racing future, but for the future generation of First Nations stock car drivers out there in Canada.
“We have a lot of aspiring race car drivers on our reservations there are Mohawk, Mik Maq, Cree drivers that have a lot of talent, but they need the funding to go stock car racing,” White said. “I want to show the world that native people can accomplish big things. We are not just stuck on reserves.”
Fortunately for White, he is the owner and operator of the OCR Gaz Bar on the Kahnawake reservation; therefore, funding an effort of this magnitude is a little less challenging, financially. When asked about realistic goals for Sunday’s race, White said he is truly honored that Circle eSport Racing has given him a chance to compete with the big boys, a goal that he has maintained since his early days of racing stock cars, and he firmly believes that owners Joe Falk and Mike Hillman have the right equipment for the task.
White’s first appearance in the main event ring that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing could inspire others to follow suit.
“They might look at me and say if he can do this, then maybe there is a chance I can do this,” White said.
White’s foray into the ranks of Sprint Cup Series racing didn’t come easy; he paid his dues in the ranks of drag racing for 30 yeears before taking a leap of faith into the world of stock car racing in 2009. White won the 2010 Canadian Tire Series Rookie of the Year award prior to breaking into the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series.
Although White might not be a household name in NASCAR just yet, he’s spent the last four seasons running a limited schedule in the Xfinity Series. White’s finest moment in NASCAR was back in 2012 when he was running seventh in Montreal in the Xfinity race before Kyle Busch spun him out on the last lap. He would end up rallying for a career-best 18th-place finish that day.
Since 2014, White has fielded two cars on the Xfinity Series tour. He pilots one of the cars while the other is a shared effort between various drivers including Carl Long and Josh Reaume.
White’s first-career Sprint Cup Series start on Sunday will be a huge step forward for all First Nations people across all walks of life.