He doesn’t get to race the cars, but as a member of the NASCAR legal team, Hakeem Onafowokan works near the driver’s seat of stock car racing’s sanctioning body.
A double U of M graduate, Hakeem Onafowokan combined his love of sports and his desire to work in the legal field by earning a B.S. in sport management from the College of Education and Human Development, followed by a degree from the Law School. After his second year of law school, he interned in NASCAR’s public and government affairs department, and while studying for the bar exam, he clerked in the company’s legal department.
“Having great professors and great mentors and great classmates that helped push me to be the best version of myself that I could be, and helped push me to seek opportunities in the areas where I wanted to go—those are some of my fondest memories,” says Onafowokan, who took part in the Black Law Students Association and Sports Law Association, among other U ofM activities.
Today Onafowokan is in his third year as a corporate counsel at NASCAR. He spends much of his time in the area of contracts, a subject he found challenging as a student but extremely helpful now. He works in the company headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida, not far from the Daytona International Speedway, home of the Daytona 500, the sport’s premier event.
Among his current duties is helping to enforce NASCAR’s recent ban on the Confederate battle flag. Onafowokan wasn’t directly involved in the decision to ban the flag, but appreciates it from both professional and personal standpoints.
“The ban isn’t closing doors on anyone,” he says. “We’re making it clear that we’re opening the doors for everyone to be a part of the NASCAR family and experience.”