In what is one of the most patriotic weekends of the year, NASCAR will celebrate the culmination of ‘NASCAR Unites – An American Salute,’ during Independence Day weekend festivities for the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). The race will serve as a rallying point for many NASCAR Official Partners and Licensees to express their gratitude for active American servicemen and women, veterans and their families. Several activities are planned to help honor and recognize these heroes and the sacrifices they have made through their service to our country.
Headlining the activities will be Goodyear, which will launch its “Goodyear Gives Back” program benefiting Support Our Troops®. Goodyear is running special “Support Our Troops” tires in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this weekend to honor our Armed Forces. With the help of the entire NASCAR family via volunteer service, auction items, and items for care packages, Goodyear has contributed nearly $400,000 in charitable support since 2010 to help military members and their families through the Support Our Troops organization. Fans can learn more and get involved in the “Goodyear Gives Back” program by visiting www.goodyear.com/givesback.
“Soldiers and their families make tremendous sacrifices for us every day. We hope that by changing the look of our race tires to raise awareness, along with Goodyear’s donation and fund-raising efforts for Support Our Troops, we can help make a difference in the lives of the troops and their families,” said Garth Ely, Goodyear director of brand marketing. “From outfitting Humvees and planes, to patrolling the coast with the Goodyear blimp after Pearl Harbor, Goodyear has been supporting the military for more than 100 years.”
As part of this year’s program, 5,000 care packages will be shipped to U.S. troops serving overseas. The packages will be assembled by approximately 100 volunteers on July 5th at DIS. Among them will be NASCAR President Mike Helton and a host of NASCAR Official Partners, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and crew members. Packages will include a variety of products donated by NASCAR Official Partners, Licensees, and other sponsors, including sun screen, lip balm, sore muscle balm and toothpaste packs.
UPS employees will be among the volunteers assembling the care packages, which will be transported to UPS's sorting facility in Atlanta for additional processing. From there, UPS will coordinate the delivery of the cargo to troops stationed at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.
“It's an honor to lend our logistical expertise to this important program as a way of recognizing the service and sacrifice of the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces," said Ron Rogowski, vice president, UPS sponsorships and events. "Every week UPS Trackside Services provides critical logistics support to the racing teams, but this is an opportunity to extend our NASCAR partnership for an especially important mission. We salute everyone who has served or is currently serving in the military, including the 25,000 veterans employed at UPS and the 3,100 UPSers who are currently on some type of military leave."
The NASCAR Foundation is also partnering with Goodyear to host a nine-week auction featuring items such as autographed Support Our Troops race-used Goodyear tires, fan VIP experiences, and assorted racing memorabilia.
Other Official NASCAR Partners, including Sprint, Nationwide, Toyota, Coors Light, Ritz, and Gillette; and NASCAR Licensees K’NEX and MechanixWear have also been heavily involved in the An American Salute and Goodyear Gives Back campaigns in a variety of ways.
NASCAR drivers will also be doing their part on-track, with various NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers adorning An American Salute paint schemes on their race cars and displaying Goodyear tires with the Support Our Troops sidewall design.
NASCAR fans are invited to participate by filling out postcards with messages of encouragement and thanks to military families at various locations around the track such as the Air Force and Ford displays, and at The NASCAR Foundation hauler in the DIS midway. Goodyear will also have postcards in their DIS midway display, as well as a thank you banner for fans to sign.
On the digital space, a Facebook campaign profiling military heroes and their families also kicked-off this week. Fans are encouraged to visit Facebook.com/NASCAR and leave messages of encouragement and thanks as NASCAR salutes various American heroes and their battalions every day of this week, leading into the race. The page includes homage to the USS Vicksburg Families who will be hosted at track over the race weekend. Fans can also join the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #NASCARUnites.
Other activations include the flying of an American flag from the USS Eisenhower (a.k.a. “IKE”) at DIS in honor of the sailors aboard the IKE. The flag was presented by Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood to Capt. Marcus Hitchcock during an embark in early May. NASCAR also welcomes family members of sailors aboard the USS Vicksburg this weekend as part of its “Troops to the Track” program in partnership with the Armed Forces Foundation. Sailors aboard the USS Vicksburg, based out of Jacksonville Mayport, have planned a NASCAR viewing party to watch the Coke Zero 400 live from the Arabian Sea. After more than 20 years in service, the USS Vicksburg is on its final deployment before the ship is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2013.
In addition, it’s the fourth-straight year that Daytona International Speedway will honor Medal of Honor recipients, a program that was first started by Bill France Sr. back in the 1970s. All four Medal of Honor recipients will be recognized during a special salute over various activities during the weekend. The Medal of Honor recipients, all from the Vietnam War, to be honored are Michael Fitzmaurice, Specialist Fourth Class, U.S. Army; Jack Jacobs, Captain, U.S. Army; Robert Patterson, Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army; James Taylor, Captain, U.S. Army.
Red, white and blue products will also be provided to NASCAR officials, who will be outfitted in NASCAR pit caps by Motorsports Authentics, specially-themed gloves by Mechanix Wear, and lanyards by Wincraft. Miss Sprint Cup will once again don the red, white and blue patriotic-themed fire suit. Fans also can show their American pride by gearing up with NASCAR Unites – An American Salute apparel, which can be purchased via Motorsports Authentics and Americrown at trackside, Walmart and NASCAR.COM Superstore. Other available products include NASCAR Unites – An American Salute die-cast collectibles, headwear, t-shirts, novelties, plush and toys.