Who is Mauricia Grant? NASCAR Knows

For the last decade, NASCAR has tried to shed its legacy as a sport indelibly linked to the confederate flag. Motorsports bosses have understood that if their sport were ever to go global, burning rubber couldn't be associated with burning crosses. However, despite efforts to buff their image, it's still a sport where racism pulses below the surface and sexism in the form of bikini clad NASCAR eye-candy is proudly paraded around the speedway, as much a part of the scenery as the stars and bars. NASCAR has for years been in danger of being crushed by this contradiction. They’re attempting to reach an upscale international audience while clinging to the worst kind of provincial sewage.

NASCAR execs' preoccupation with having their cake and eating it too has long been a recipe for disaster. And now we have the ingredient that could ruin the entire corporate feast: Mauricia Grant. In 2005, Grant became the first black, female inspection official in the sport's history. Two years later she was fired. Now Grant has filed a $225 million harassment lawsuit against NASCAR alleging "racial and sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination."

"I loved it. It was a great, exciting, adrenaline-filled job where I worked with fast cars and the best drivers in the world," Grant told The Associated Press. "But there was an ongoing daily pattern [of harassment]. It was the nature of the people I worked with, the people who ran it, it trickled down from the top."

The lawsuit details twenty-three specific incidents of sexual harassment and thirty-four specific incidents of alleged racial and gender discrimination over a two-year span. It is a fairly mind numbing recitation of verbal abuse that goes well beyond anyone's notion of political correctness.

In addition to the verbal barrage, Grant has accused two NASCAR officials, Tim Knox and Bud Moore, of exposing themselvesto her as well. They are now on "indefinite administrative paid leave" although NASCAR suspiciously says it has nothing to do with the lawsuit. (If you believe that, you must think Jesse Helms is in heaven.)

Grant claims she was called "Nappy Headed Mo" and "Queen Sheba." She had a coworker who liked to talk casually about the Ku Klux Klan. Another white official named, oddly enough, David Duke, sent her a text message that read, "I love all Yall mofos i am that nigga. HAHAHAHolla. PIMPALICIOUS."

So far, NASCAR's response to Grant's allegations has been to go into attack mode. Chairman Brian France said, "The disappointing thing is she makes a lot of claims, none of them reported, The fact that it went on as she stated, for many months, but never bothered to tell anyone at management what was going on--which is what our policy says--is very disappointing." Grant claims she did tell others but that she was told to let it go because her tormenters were "former military guys" with a rough sense of humor.

Mike Wilford, who is named in the suit and has since left NASCAR, told The Associated Press that Grant was in on the offensive "jokes" the whole time. "Graphic and lewd jokes? She participated in them. She laughed, she would never say it was inappropriate," Wilford claims. "She asked to be called the only two names she was ever called. She called herself Mo Money all the time."

Needless to say, this scandal could destroy NASCAR, or at the very least, put it in permanent marketing purgatory. Ironically the person perhaps best-equipped to save NASCAR from itself is Mauricia Grant.

Grant has said, "We have to work together to change the racist culture. Anyone that has an interest in motorsports, they should be allowed to work in that environment without having to deal with racism or sexism."

Grant's love of motorsports is so intense, so pure, that she can separate the beauty of the sport from the ugly underbelly desperately clinging to its wheels.

Grant has also commented, “It’s not an easy place to work, but if this is what you want to do, you have to work hard and fight for it, put your time in and demonstrate that you’re capable of doing the job.”

It’s a nice sentiment. But when it comes to NASCAR, workers may have to do more than “demonstrate that [they’re] capable of doing the job.” They may have to actually demonstrate. At Daytona. In Talledega. Handing out flyers to the folks streaming inby the thousands. Can you imagine? One can almost hear Jesse Helms spin.

40 Reader Comments | Add a comment

its exactly what NASCAR needed

Far from destroy NASCAR, this is exactly what they needed. The sports' (termed loosely) attempts to broaden its appeal have lead to their flattened growth. Its become zero sum. With every concession they make to the mainstream, they piss off their redneck base. This will reassure NASCAR's long term fans, that its as backward, and racist as it ever was.

Racism destroying NASCAR

I've never seen any institution in this country destroyed by it's own racism. That's what over 100 years legalized racism does - it is now a part of our cultural institutions from education to sports and it will need much more than a law suit by an African American to make much difference in this sport.

Randy Moss

Has Randy weighed in on this subject yet?

NASCAR...

Living within driving distance of a major NASCAR track, I get to see some of these fans up close and personal many times. Nobody said they fell off the Ivy League bandwagon and they DO cling to god and guns voting AGAINST they're self interests (repubs 24/7?!). However, you see this in all male-oriented sports. You just replace the racism with any other social ill.

Mauricia Grant

I have no desire to see NASCAR survive, but more power to Mauricia Grant for confronting the system that continues to allow sexism and racism to flourish, where women are still not allowed to simply do what they love to do. Jackie Robinson 60 years later.

Mauricia Grant

Grant is an opportunist and a first class liar. I worked around her for the entire time she was employed at NASCAR. I am a female minority who knows and interacts with the same people she's alleging committed offenses against her; I never once suffered any of what she's alleging. She makes a lot of claims and has facts, dates, people, and incidents completely wrong. She also lied about why she was fired. She showed up to the race track in Memphis drunk. After the morning officials' meeting, she snuck off to a NASCAR truck and fell asleep. after hours of calling her on the radio and searching for her, she was found, brought to the NASCAR hauler and fired. Before she left the track, she got on the radio and announced that Joe Balash was firing her and that NASCAR could go f*%k itself. Her attitude and temper constantly got her in hot water and her foul language was an issue, as well. The one official I saw that she had any sort of friendship with was Mike Wilford; he is a first class gentleman and also a minority. Her allegation about him in the lawsuit is a total fabrication. I find it sad that she basically named every male official in the Nationwide Series in her suit. If the other minorities and women she claims were fired because of their ethnicity and gender, why haven't any of them come forward to substantiate her claims? Why didn't she invite them to participate in her suit?

Allegations

Ms. Doughe: I do hope your allegations will stand up in court; otherwise I would say your comments constitute libel.

RE: Allegations

Ms Bond,
You don't need to worry about what will stand up in court and what won't; you're not involved in the case, you have no interest in the case, and you obviously have no clue as to what constitutes libel. When you go to school and get a law degree like I did, then get back to me on what constitutes libel. To address your ignorant comment, I am a female and a minority and I'm doing very well in my racing career. While NASCAR is not perfect, it is far better than many other large multinational corporations when it comes to equal opportunity, diversity, and educating and enforcing the rules for conduct. I challenge you to find the perfect company where it's all roses everyday. Keep in mind, Ms. Bond that one's race or gender does not qualify one to hold any position within a company, racing related or otherwise.

Allegations

ms. doughe, i respect your opinion on the subject. If she (Mauricia Grant) has visible evidence, the statement you made is toward her is absurd. I also have a law degree, and know that physical evidence is everything. You would have to be totally ignorant to think that racisism doesnt exist in NASCAR. I am a white male that witnessed such racial activity while attending a NASCAR venue. Whos to say that you may be siding with NASCAR to move up the ladder, or for some gain. I dont side with either side. I rather mock trial the case as the defendant and the prosicution, and compare my case. GO NITTANY LIONS!!!

Nascar and race

Nascar has had one one Black man wina race Wendell Scott.. Being one who broke the color line in the railroad industry(signal maintainer). I under stand what she may have had to indoor. But them my time was different and the harassment was different. But I weathered through.. If one wants to get in to Nascar one must remember you'll have to put up with this. One also has to be tall enough to speak up when such harassment happens don't suck it up or blow it off. Baseball,football.golf,basketball players all had to but up race harassment in order to to make it to the top. It shouldn't be but and it's time for change in a good way.
Me I'm too o;d to try to be a driver as that's where by dreams are.

Lady Grant

How can anyone belive comments from Jayne Doughe ahe can't even use her real name.
Go figuire that one.
another liar bites the dust

Glynn Austin

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what a joke

this (LAWSUIT) is absolutely mind numbing. This lil mo'fo KNEW from the 'git go ' what her intentions were. This is NOT racism. What SHE did is in fact racism. She was BOUND AND DETERMINED TO 'SHOW THE CRACKERS' WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT ... get a grip ..please... and SOON !

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Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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