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As racing fans, we tend to focus a lot on the end. Who got first place? Who came in with a top-10 finish? Who had the fastest lap? And so forth. But ask any driver or their pit crew and they'll tell you the journey to the checkered flag is equally important. 

So as excitement continues to build around the Enjoy Illinois 300 -- set for June 5 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway -- it is important to recognize the race as the culmination of a years‑long effort by World Wide Technology Raceway, WWT and its community partners to compete for one of North America's most exclusive races and deliver an innovative fan experience while advancing development programs for our company and community outreach initiatives.

Though it may not be obvious at first blush, our commitment to racing and the WWT Raceway is strategically linked with how we make a new world happen -- by building innovative solutions, driving customer outcomes, improving our communities and inspiring our employees. 

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How did we get here? 

Our interest in racing began well before WWT even secured its first dollar in revenue. Our founder and chairman, Dave Steward, caught the racing bug from his father as a young boy growing up in rural Missouri and "dreamed of being involved with racing" in some capacity.

Decades later, Dave moved that vision into high gear when WWT cemented its relationship with Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) and then-RPM driver Darrell "Bubba" Wallace. The partnership presented WWT a unique opportunity to make a positive impact across our entire ecosystem of stakeholders (communities, customers and employees).

  • As the official technology and analytics partner of RPM, we developed innovative data solutions that helped optimize RPM and Wallace's performance on the track.
  • In sponsoring Wallace -- then the only Black driver on the NASCAR circuit -- we reinforced our commitment to the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, while providing Wallace a platform to serve as a role model for racing fans everywhere.
  • Working with RPM gave us an opportunity to improve our communities through a strategic donation to Victory Junction, founded by the Petty family to enrich the lives of children enduring serious illness with a life-changing, all-expenses-paid camping experience.
Left: NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. Right: Richard Petty poses with Dave Steward -- both wearing Petty's signature cowboy hat.

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Bringing our investment home

Our relationship with RPM thrust us into the world of top-tier stock car racing, where we quickly saw tremendous potential and realized we could add value to the sport and its community.

We doubled down on our investment. In 2019, we committed to a long-term naming rights deal with Curtis Francois and Gateway Motorsports Park -- just minutes from our global headquarters and integration campus -- and officially renamed the track World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. 

The announcement was made during the 2019 Global Leadership Forum (GLF) Summit, an event that connects the world's leading STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) organizations that are engaging, educating, empowering, and transforming underserved communities and building tomorrow's workforce.

Bubba Wallace, Dave Steward II, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Dave Steward and Curtis Francois at WWT's global headquarters announcing the naming rights deal for WWT Raceway in 2019.

WWT Raceway and NASCAR are investing to inspire young students, especially those from underserved and underrepresented communities, to pursue studies and careers by bringing STEM to life via NASCAR races that offer the combination of exciting competition and advanced technology with real world examples of mechanical, electrical, aerodynamic and computer science engineering plus human factors and math. At the June 5 Cup Race, the four-day weekend of activities includes:

  • STEM Lane, an interactive family friendly experience now in its third year at the raceway that includes robot building, driving remote cars and welding activities on the midway.
  • Augmented reality applied to NASCAR racing and demonstrated by WWT engineers.

WWT's Global Community Impact program strives to promote and support activities that promote STEM education among. Our goal is to create a model that can be easily replicated at other NASCAR Cup races around the U.S.

Motorsports are just one way WWT is advancing STEM education for underserved and underrepresented youth. We also work with other organizations, such as Hawthorn Leadership School for GirlsLaunchCode and NPower, among others to drive inclusion and equity for the ever-expanding opportunities in the digital world.

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Racing roots grow deeper

As our connections to the racing industry grew deeper, so too did our relationships with some of its most inspiring personalities. 

As part of the Steward Family's commitment to advance racial equity, Dave Steward's son, Dave II, and his company, Lion Forge Animation, are partnering with the family of Wendell Scott -- the first Black driver to win at the top level in NASCAR -- to educate future generations on the importance of NASCAR's first Black champion and how STEM connects to this exciting sport. 

In honor of Scott's legacy, it is WWT's goal to make WWT Raceway a beacon for diversity, equity and inclusion in the sport of racing. 

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More than a race

As you may now realize, our involvement in the sport of racing extends well beyond the track. It's a strategic investment that aligns with our core values and dedication to embrace a diversity of people and thought.

Likewise, the Enjoy Illinois 300 represents so much more than a race. Undoubtedly, race day will bring about some of the best the sport has to offer. But the week of events we have in store leading up to the race are truly a celebration of learning, diversity and fun.