By Ryan Velez
NASCAR is seen as one of the whitest spaces in professional sports, but Black Enterprise reports that one woman is working to change that, not just behind the wheel, but as the owner of a race team. Here is the story of Melissa Harville-Lebron, who by her own admission, never thought that she would be headed down this path.
Harville-Lebron already had plenty to deal with on her own before taking this venture on, raising both her three children as a single mother along with siblings’ four kids. Her career started as an intern at Sony Music. In 2005, she launched her own music label while working for New York City’s Department of Correction office. However, a severe asthma attack forced her into early retirement and led to her launching a multifaceted entertainment company, W.M. Stone Enterprises Inc., in 2014.
How did this lead to racing? Harville-Lebron took her sons to a NASCAR experience event at Charlotte Super Speedway, trying to get them to not take on such a dangerous hobby. However, her and her sons ended up getting interested, to the point where she invested hundreds of thousands to develop her own team.
“I got invited to a NASCAR experience and I brought my boys along thinking that it would discourage them from driving,” she told Black Enterprise. But “it did not work that way.” They drove 149 mph and 150 mph during their first session and loved every minute of it while she watched in awe. However, there was a lack of diversity both on the track and in the offices. She decided to change that by creating E2 Northeast Motorsports under the umbrella of W.M. Stone Enterprises, Inc. The E2 Northeast Motorsports team became the first multicultural team to race competitively in NASCAR, with Bour black and Latino drivers — two in the camping world truck series and two in NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series. Two of the drivers are brothers and Harville-Lebron’s sons, Eric and Enico.
Along with helping people of color break in, Harville-Lebron wishes for others to follow her example. “It’s important for our culture to push generational wealth to our children. It’s important to lead by example. All too often our children see negative images of our culture and I think it’s very important for people of our culture actually succeeding in business,” she said.