August 19, 2013

On Tuesday, Raphael Orlove and Bill Caswell posed the question on Jalopnik, “Why Aren’t There More ‘Out’ Gay Race Car Drivers?” Actually, there are more than you think.

Evan Darling is an openly gay driver known best for his efforts in road racing. Evan raced in the GRAND-AM Road Racing Series as a part of the Street Tuner class of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge — then known as the Koni Challenge.

Justin Mullikin is an out and open race car driver running in the NASCAR Grand National Sportsmen division, which falls under the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Last season Justin was chosen, by the track officials and tech directors at Lacrosse Speedway in West Salem, Wisconsin for the Competition Achievement Award. It’s an award for someone who had an outstanding achievement at the track, is well respected by competitors and has an overall positive impact on the speedway.

Stephen Rhodes is a long time late-model stock car racer and he raced in NASCAR’s Truck Series in 2003. Stephen took time off from racing to help his partner open a restaurant in North Carolina but he plans to return NASCAR’s Truck Series in 2014.

The now-defunct SPEED Network’s Race Hub recently profiled Stephen and his efforts to return to the track. With one small exception, Rhodes had no problems being out in the garage. "Everyone knew, everyone was aware; never really had any confrontations," Rhodes said to NASCAR Race Hub. "There was one, little incident that happened that I felt was geared towards who I was, more than anything. That kind of made me second-guess the sport for a second, but at the end of the day, it didn't really bother me."

But how would the people in the garage and the other drivers react?