Tia Norfleet The First African American NASCAR Driver? NY Times Says It’s A Lie
Do you know the name Tia Norfleet? For the last ten years, she has purported herself to be the first African American female race car driver in the world. In fact, on her website www.tianorfleet34.com she claims to be the “NASCAR racing star.” One problem…
The New York Times ran a story in March of 2013 reporting that Norfleet isn’t NASCAR driver. What’s more? She isn’t even a racer. Tia Norfleet has only raced one lap in a non sanctioned racing circuit. So what does she have? A license. That’s it.
Here are the details courtesy of the New York Times…
For the past four years, Norfleet has purchased a license to race at the lowest level of stock-car racing. There is no vetting process for such a license; individual racetracks must approve drivers for competition.
To move up to a higher level of competition — a regional touring series like the K&N Pro Series East or the K&N Pro Series West — a driver must earn approval from Nascar. Norfleet has not done that yet.
Meanwhile, publications and Web sites like The Washington Post, The Huffington Post and ESPN have heralded her ascent. “Ms. Norfleet is one of thousands of individuals who have purchased licenses in the Late Model Division of our sport,” Jadotte said in an e-mail. “I am uncomfortable with attempts Ms. Norfleet and her representatives have made to forgo the sport’s development process.”
Nascar officials said they were also concerned with questions about Norfleet’s legal record. Public records indicate that Tia Norfleet’s full name is Shauntia Latrice Norfleet, and that she has a criminal record in Virginia and Georgia. (No public records were found with the name Tia Norfleet.) According to her Web site, her hometown is Augusta, Ga.
Court records show that in 2005 and 2009, Norfleet was found guilty of assault and drug-related offenses. Norfleet did not deny having a criminal record.
“People make mistakes in their life and move forward and make a better way,” she said in a telephone interview. “I think things that I’ve done, people make mistakes, as a child, as a teen, and basically, it’s things that you may not be proud of but you move forward and you help others. And they may be in the same situation and you can relate and they can relate to you, and you help them as much as possible.”
Bobby Norfleet, Tia’s father and a former racecar driver, later said that her comments were not an admission that she was involved in a crime. “Somebody’s got something wrong,” he said. “Somebody’s going to eventually have to write a retraction.”
According to public records, Norfleet is 26 years old. Some news reports earlier this year said she was 24. Tia and Bobby Norfleet refused to confirm her birth date.
According to a news release distributed by Platinum Sports Entertainment Group, Norfleet is now a good-will ambassador for the National African American Drug Policy Coalition Inc. She was also the safe driving spokeswoman for the SafeTeen Georgia Driving Academy at Atlanta Motor Speedway in May.
One of the first public mentions of a Tia Norfleet appears to be in a news release in January 2010, a month after Shauntia Norfleet’s conviction in Lincoln County, Ga., for crossing a guard line at a jail with contraband and possession of marijuana.
The release announced Tia Norfleet as “the first and only African-American female driver in Nascar and Arca,” and said she had signed to be represented by Platinum Sports Entertainment Group.
At that time, Norfleet had not raced for Nascar or Arca, another auto racing organization in the United States.
The only sanctioned race that Norfleet entered, according to the sport’s officials, was the late-model stock-car event held at the Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Norfleet started the first of two Twin 100s races and was credited with completing one lap.
One driver in that field said he was not surprised that Norfleet did not stay in the race for more than a lap. Tommy Lemons Jr., who drove the No. 27 car in that race, said he had watched Norfleet practice the day before and was among several drivers who decided not to go on the racetrack at the same time.
“She was extremely slow, just kind of in the way almost,” Lemons said. “We decided not to go out on the racetrack any time she was out there just to keep from anything possibly happening.”
Jason Grant, marketing manager for Purview Creative Strategy and Design, based in Bridgewater, N.J., built a Web site for Norfleet. He said he used his own company advertisements on the site as “placemats” for potential sponsors. When Grant was informed Tuesday of Norfleet’s past, he pulled his ads from the site.
So how did NASCAR react to this news? With the biggest understatement in the history of understatements…
“I am uncomfortable with Tia representing herself in the way that she has,” said Marcus Jadotte, Nascar’s VP for public affairs and multicultural development.
Best part about all this? She’s just so cold about it. In hindsight, it’s almost hilarious. I dare you to watch the video below (with the information above in mind) and not laugh…