Undeterred by continued harassment and racism, Ryan Vargas continues to chase his racing dream with grace and dignity and, as such, has been voted the winner of the National Motorsport Press Association Pocono Spirit Award for the first quarter of 2023.
Vargas earned the honor by a one-vote margin over Bobby Labonte. Others receiving votes were Max Gutierrez and Memo Gidley.
A competitor in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Craftsman Truck Series, Vargas has received harassment and racism targeted at himself, his sponsors, crew members and his family. Not only have those reached him through social media, but also text messages, phone calls and even death threats.
Vargas has continued to hold his head high while competing part-time in the sport, handling much of his media duties and sponsor pitching independently. When Vargas isn‘t driving, he is still involved as a team member.
Additionally, Vargas is a board member of the F.A.C.E.S charity, where he helps raise awareness about craniosynostosis and other craniofacial conditions.
Vargas is now eligible for the year-end NMPA Pocono Spirit Award, also voted on by NMPA members and presented at the annual convention.
Established in 1992 and supported by Pocono Raceway, the Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motor sports. It is also meant to acknowledge competitors who have overcome illness, injury, or tragedy to return to racing.
— National Motorsports Press Association —