The last weekend in May always has special meaning to Americans, for whom it is a time to remember and honor the soldiers who lost their lives while serving in the United States military.
For race fans in particular, the weekend is uniquely special in that America’s fallen soldiers are honored in the many festivities surrounding what is widely recognized as the country’s biggest racing weekend of the year. In the United States, the racing day starts at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the iconic Indianapolis 500 and finishes under the lights at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway with the longest race of the Monster Energy NASCAR’s Cup Series season – the Coca-Cola 600. Not only are they famous and historic racing events, but both host many active duty military and both have traditions that honor soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
With that, a familiar way of honoring fallen soldiers returns with the NASCAR Salutes program over the summer, beginning with this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600. NASCAR Salutes at Charlotte features “600 Miles of Remembrance,” during which each car in the field will carry the name of a fallen soldier on the windshield. Busch has the honor of displaying the name of SGT Dale Griffin on his M&M’S Red, White & Blue Toyota. Griffin, a native of Terre Haute, Indiana lost his life in Afghanistan in October 2009.
Busch, the defending Coca-Cola 600 winner, unveiled the patriotic paint scheme that will adorn his No. 18 M&M’S Red, White & Blue Toyota Camry in this year’s race back on May 8 and was honored to be joined by Dona and Gene Griffin, the parents of Army SGT Griffin. Busch hopes that, just like SGT Eric Toth one year ago, he can take SGT Griffin’s name and legacy to victory lane this weekend.
In addition to honoring a fallen soldier, the No. 18 M&M’S Red, White & Blue Toyota Camry features a patriotic paint scheme itself that celebrates M&M’S Red, White & Blue Mix available at local retailers where the M&M’S brand will help to support America’s troops. For every pack of M&M’S Red, White & Blue Mix purchased between May 1 and Aug. 31, a donation will be made to the USO to help entertain the troops. This is part of the $250,000 that Mars Wrigley Confectionery has pledged to the USO this year.
Busch will look to honor Griffin and all fallen soldiers with a strong run in his patriotic scheme, and he’ll be heading into the 13th points race of the season looking to bring home back-to-back victories in the crown jewel Coca-Cola 600 to follow up his dominant performance from one year ago.
Busch actually broke through in the Cup Series at Charlotte two years ago in the non-points All-Star Race for his first Cup Series win of any kind at the 1.5-mile oval. Ever since his childhood in Las Vegas, some of Busch’s favorite race-watching memories came during Charlotte’s iconic Coca-Cola 600 and All-Star Race during the month of May. He dreamed that one day he, too, could be the one hoisting the trophy at one of stock car racing’s most hallowed grounds, and he finally accomplished that goal with the 2017 All-Star win and last year’s Coca-Cola 600 win, both on the 1.5-mile oval.
In his 29 previous Cup Series starts at Charlotte over the past 13-plus seasons, Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success there with 12 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s. In addition to solid Cup Series finishes, Busch has captured eight NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Charlotte – May 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010, October 2008 and 2009, and both May and October 2013. He also has eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins at the track – 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019.
So, this Memorial Day weekend, Busch will look to bring home his second crown jewel win at Charlotte and, at the same time, honor SGT Griffin and all troops who have given the ultimate sacrifice, as well as those who continue to serve America and the Red, White & Blue.
JTG Daugherty Racing Teams to Honor Fallen Service Members During 600 Miles of Remembrance at Charlotte Motor Speedway21 May 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
JTG Daugherty Racing will honor two fallen service members on the windshields of Ryan Preece and Chris Buescher’s Camaro ZL1s during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26. Both fallen soldiers served in the US Army National Guard with the lead engineer on the No, 37 team, Brian Burns. Burns served from 1993 to 2001 before pursuing a career in motorsports.
SPC William Jeffries graduated from Evansville (Ind.) Reitz High School in 1982 and spent a decade with the Air Force before joining the Indiana National Guard. He originally enlisted in The United States Air Force in 1987 serving as a Security Policeman and served there for 10 years. He then enlisted in The Army National Guard. He was deployed to Kuwait and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom until his death on March 31st, 2003. He was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry Regiment, Indiana Army National Guard. SPC Jeffries will be on the windshield of Preece’s Kroger Camaro ZL1.
“I’m really grateful to be able to honor a fallen soldier with such a personal connection to the team,” Preece said. “With this being my first Coca-Cola 600, I’m proud to have SPC Jeffries’ name on the windshield of our Kroger Camaro ZL1 for 600 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Salutes program is so special and unlike anything else we do throughout the season to honor our military who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
“It is such a great personal feeling to be able to show my appreciation for these fallen soldiers,” Burns said. “I served eight years in the National Guard and was privileged in getting to work with both heroes. At the end of my eight-year service term, I decided to pursue a career in motorsports. A very short time after making this decision, my unit was activated and deployed to serve during Operation Iraqi Freedom. SPC Jeffries was a guy that made it hard to be in a bad mood if you were in his presence. I can’t ever remember a time seeing him that he didn’t have a great big grin on his face.”
SFC David Moore enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1986 and was a decorated solider. He served three tours in Bosnia, Kuwait and Iraq assigned to the 1st Battalion, 152nd Infantry Regiment, Indiana Army National Guard along with SPC Jeffries and Burns. SFC Moore served 20 years with the Army National Guard and passed away on February 4, 2008 from complications after being exposed to chemicals while deployed. He will ride for 600 miles on the windshield of Chris Buescher’s Thrill of the Grill Camaro ZL1.
“It’s an absolute honor to have the name of someone my engineer served with on the windshield of our Thrill of the Grill Camaro ZL1 at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” Buescher said. “Brian Burns has been my engineer since I started at JTG Daugherty Racing, and we’re like a big family on our No. 37 team. It’s hard to put into words how special it is to have SFC Moore’s name on our car for 600 miles and pay tribute to someone who is an extension of our own family here.”
“I have been able to enjoy an exciting career in NASCAR and live a wonderful life with my family because these two brave men made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” Burns said. “SFC Moore was a great leader and mentor for me during my time in service. He always took care of his soldiers and had the respect of everyone around him. I was able to give him a tour of the garage and pit area at ISM Raceway during one of his military leaves and got to hear about many of his wartime experiences. I am grateful to JTG Daugherty Racing for showing the families and friends of these two warriors that we will never forget the sacrifices that they have made for this country.”
The Coca-Cola 600 will run on May 26 at Charlotte Motor Speedway beginning at 6pmET on FOX. Buescher and Preece will race for 600 miles at the 1.5-mile track in the backyard of the JTG Daugherty Racing shop in Concord, N.C.
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Today, Team Penske announced a new multi-year partnership with Dent Wizard, North America’s largest provider of automotive reconditioning services and vehicle protection products. The Dent Wizard brand will debut as the primary sponsor on the No. 12 Ford Mustang driven by Ryan Blaney for two races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS), including the August 17 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the October 13 event at Talladega Superspeedway.
Headquartered in Bridgeton, Mo., Dent Wizard provides a full array of automotive reconditioning services across multiple channels that include auction, dealer, rental, finance & insurance (F&I), collision centers, catastrophe and OEM’s. . Founded in 1983, Dent Wizard’s 2,100- technicians service thousands of customers within the automotive reconditioning space.
“Dent Wizard has established itself as an industry leader and we welcome them as our newest partner at Team Penske,” said Roger Penske. “We have enjoyed new opportunities with some new partners since our NASCAR Cup Series program expanded to three full-time entries last season with Ryan (Blaney) joining Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano). We are excited to work with Dent Wizard to help build the company’s brand and showcase its services.”
Dent Wizard will maximize the new partnership to engage with potential and current customers through Team Penske’s motorsports programs, including at-track hospitality and social/digital assets. Dent Wizard also hopes to capitalize on business-to-business opportunities by working with existing Team Penske partners.
“We are excited about the Team Penske partnership,” said Mike Black, Dent Wizard President and CEO. “At Dent Wizard, our team of 3,000+ associates pride ourselves on exemplifying our core values of integrity, innovation, customer devotion and excellence. Having spent the last 35 years in the reconditioning industry, we have learned to value great partnerships that create a win-win for both parties. Dent Wizard is happy to continue building our business and brand within the automotive space.”
At just 25 years old, Blaney has emerged as one of NASCAR’s brightest young stars. In 2018, he captured his second career Cup Series victory at the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway, while he won three poles and finished10th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings. This season, Blaney won the pole at ISM Raceway in March and he is currently ranked 10th in the standings.
“It’s great to build a new relationship with Dent Wizard and have them as part of the No. 12 Mustang team,” said Blaney. “I hope to bring their brand a ton of new exposure at two great tracks later this year and into the future.”
The 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season continues with the 60th Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26 starting at 6:00 p.m. ET on FOX.
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In Middle of Current Infield Demolition, Talladega Superspeedway’s New Race Operations Building Being Constructed Outside, High Above Tri-Oval21 May 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Since the checkered flag flew on the GEICO 500 nearly three weeks ago, Talladega Superspeedway’s infield has seen mass demolition of buildings and structures to make way for the new Talladega Garage Experience, which will debut for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 and Sugarlands Shine 250 on October 11-13.
While much of the beginning of Phase II of Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar is seeing part of the infield pit/garage area leveled, one building – Race Operations outside the mammoth 2.66-mile venue – already has its steel structure form and is being created high above the track’s Tri-Oval.
The new Race Operations building, which will be 127 feet high – roughly 10 stories – from the ground to the top of its roof, will house Race Control where NASCAR officials will call the race, along with analysts for LIVE Network Television (NBC in fall, and FOX in spring) and LIVE Radio - Motor Racing Network (MRN), as well as public address (PA) announcers. During Talladega’s recent race weekend, FOX’s Jeff Gordon, MRN’s Jeff Striegle and NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton – all of whom will be in the new structure for future events – saw the new construction and had rave reviews.
“I don’t know how we as commentators can get more excited about calling a race at Talladega, but the new tower will give us that opportunity,” said Gordon, who finished his career tied for second with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the track’s all-time career win list with six. “I get just as excited in the booth as I did behind the wheel at Talladega because I know how tense it is out there, and with us being up so high, it’s going to give us a whole new perspective of such an incredible place.”
Race Operations, which is being built by GT Grandstands, a PlayCore Company out of Plant City, FL (www.gtgrandstands.com), will be 116 feet long by 18 feet tall, and 33 feet deep. It will also provide a new location for all the race team spotters, who will have the full length on top of the building to communicate with their driver and team. The new building will also oversee the Talladega Garage Experience (TGE) that will allow fans to be immersed into the sport of NASCAR like never before.
The TGE, which includes access under the same roof where the race cars are being prepped by the race teams, will feature “up-close” access, interactive attractions and enhanced amenities for fans, sponsors, teams and stakeholders in the iconic Talladega infield. It will take the place of the current garage/pit area that stretches from the center of the Tri-Oval all the way down near the start-finish line.
The approximately $50 million Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar is part of International Speedway Corporation’s (Talladega’s parent company) long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes. Some items in the new TGE will include: a fan viewing walkway to the teams, cars and inspection stations during race preparation in the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage; New Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garages (44 stalls); New, modern Open Air Club (covered) with close-up viewing of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Garage; Wi-Fi presented by Xtreme Concepts in all areas of the TGE; New Gatorade Victory Lane with fan up-close view in TGE; Pit Road Club to enhance the experience for fans and corporate guests; Exclusive social, engagement areas with Concessions/Souvenirs/
DLR Group is the architect of the entire project while Hoar Construction from Birmingham is spearheading Phase II. In addition to Race Operations, GT Grandstands will construct the new Pit Road Club. Fans can learn more about the project by visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.
NASCAR Industry Descends on Charlotte for the 39th Annual Speedway Children’s Charities Gala Presented by Sonic Automotive21 May 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Wednesday’s 39th annual Speedway Children’s Charities Gala presented by Sonic Automotive at The Ritz-Carlton in Uptown Charlotte will provide a spectacular night of entertainment and first-class cuisine while raising money to benefit children in need throughout the greater Charlotte region.
Chef Robert Irvine, last year’s grand marshal for the Coca-Cola 600, is known for hosting some of the Food Network’s most popular shows including “Restaurant: Impossible” and for founding the military veteran-supporting Robert Irvine Foundation in 2015. Irvine has prepared a grandiose menu for Gala attendees this year. Those at the Gala will witness a special recognition for Mike Helton, one of NASCAR’s most influential leaders and a longtime supporter of and advocate for Speedway Children’s Charities. Additionally, country music star Justin Moore will regale the crowd with No. 1 hit songs including “Small Town USA” and “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.”
Chef Irvine’s menu includes courses including miso-crusted Filet Mignon with sweet potato purée, baby carrots, local mushrooms, Tokyo turnips, and Riesling jus.
“The Speedway Children’s Charities Gala presented by Sonic Automotive is one of my favorite events every year,” said Marcus Smith, the vice chairman of Speedway Children’s Charities. “Everyone at Speedway Children’s Charities takes pride in our efforts to help children in the greater Charlotte community, and we look forward to hosting a phenomenal guest list at our sold-out gala. I can’t wait to see what Chef Irvine and Justin Moore have in store for us.”
The gala serves as a marquee fundraiser for Speedway Children’s Charities’ Charlotte chapter, a far-reaching nonprofit which assists children in need throughout the Charlotte area. The black-tie event features many prominent dignitaries from the motorsports industry as well as the nonprofit sector throughout Charlotte, the home base of Speedway Children’s Charities since its founding by O. Bruton Smith in 1982.
"Sonic Automotive and EchoPark Automotive are pleased to support the 39th annual Speedway Children's Charities Gala, marking a long-standing commitment from Sonic Automotive to organizations supporting children in our communities," said David B. Smith, CEO of Sonic Automotive & EchoPark Automotive. "We are deeply committed to giving back to the communities in which Sonic and EchoPark associates live and work. The trusted team and broad reach of Speedway Children's Charities allows us to help many children in need throughout Charlotte and the surrounding area with critical financial support."
Among the many luminaries expected to attend are NASCAR President Steve Phelps; NASCAR Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors Lesa France-Kennedy and NASCAR Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell; NASCAR driver William Byron and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett. FOX NASCAR personalities Larry McReynolds, Kaitlyn Vincie and Regan Smith and Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera are also expected to attend.
Some of the live auction items available for bidding are:
- Chef Irvine Experience – a visit for two to the set of Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible as well as a dining experience at the grand re-opening of one of the restaurants featured on Chef Irvine's show
- Sutton Bay Experience – A special hunting experience for two with Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith in South Dakota from Nov. 5-7 featuring meals, tips, hunting and access to a club with a full bar, lounge area, locker room with showers, gun storage and gun cleaning areas and sauna.
- The windshield off of Jeff Gordon’s car from his first career NASCAR Cup Series win in the 1994 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Some of the silent auction items will include:
- Spiaggia Restaurant Experience – An unforgettable eight-course dinner and wine pairing for four people prepared by Chef-Partner Tony Mantuano and Top Chef Season 15 winner, Executive Chef Joe Flamm, at Spiaggia in downtown Chicago.
- FOX Big East Basketball Tournament Experience – A behind-the-scenes tour of Fox Sports, tickets for four to the semifinals and championship games at Madison Square Garden, Fox Sports college basketball merchandise and two nights of hotel accommodations in New York City
- Blackstone Shooting Sports Package – Two hours of shooting time on Charlotte’s private nine-lane VIP range plus one additional hour of social time in the VIP lounge, nine rental firearms and a private safety briefing.
Lake Norman Patio and Game Rooms Join Vinnie Miller and the No. 78 BJ McLeod Motorsports NXS Team at Charlotte Motor Speedway21 May 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Lake Norman Patio and Game Rooms, Inc. based in Mooresville, NC will serve as the primary sponsor for Vinnie Miller in the No. 78 BJ McLeod Motorsports NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) Camaro for the running of the Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Miller finished in the 28th place position on the 1.5-mile Concord, NC track in his 2018 NXS Rookie season and hopes to better that this Saturday afternoon.
“I’m really excited about going back to Charlotte (Motor Speedway) this weekend with a local Mooresville sponsor; Lake Norman Patio and Game Rooms. I met Brad (Doane) when I was looking for a dart board, we hit it off and he offered to help us for the Charlotte race,” Vinnie Miller said. “Hopefully, I will give him a strong finish and they’ll be back with us again later in the season. I’ve really been working on my mile-and-half track performance so I think Charlotte is a perfect track for Lake Norman Patio and Game Rooms to be on the No. 78 BJ McLeod Motorsports Camaro. I know these guys on the BJ McLeod Motorsports team have been working hard to get the car ready for this weekend, now it is my turn to do my job and bring home a solid finish Saturday.”
“I met Vinnie when he came in the store a few months ago and we really hit it off. I expressed an interest in helping him out from time to time. I’ve had a business here since 2011 and became more interested in NASCAR being that we are based in the Mooresville area.” Brad Doane, owner of Lake Norman Patio and Game Rooms, Inc. continued. “This is my first venture sponsoring a car in one of the top-tier NASCAR Touring Series and hoping to become more involved. We are really excited about being a part of the BJ McLeod Motorsports team this weekend in Charlotte.”
Not only does Lake Norman Patio and Game Rooms sell top high-end outdoor furniture and accessories for outdoor living but have been named ICON® Electric Vehicles newest dealer in North Carolina. http://iconev.com
The Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is slated to begin Saturday, May 25th at 1:00pm. Live coverage begins at 12:30pm on FS1, PRN Radio and NASCAR Sirius Channel 90.
Vinnie Miller PR
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season. It’s also known as the greatest motorsports weekend of the year as Sunday kicks off with the Formula One Grand Prix of Monaco, followed by the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
After those two iconic events, a third completes the day’s impressive schedule in the form of the longest NASCAR event of the year – the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
The Coca-Cola 600 is one of the four “crown jewels” of the NASCAR season. And Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is one of only four drivers to win all four crown jewels.
Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Harvick are the only drivers to see the checkered flag first at the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500.
Harvick is hoping he can score his third Coca-Cola 600 victory after posting wins in 2011 and 2013.
And he’ll do so with Mobil 1 technology on board as a sponsor and technical partner.
Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR organization with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track. In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.
And no place will better expose this than Sunday’s 600-mile marathon at Charlotte. Harvick and his SHR teammates will have an advantage via Mobil 1 during a race that’s 100 miles longer than the next-longest events on the tour, making durability key to success.
Memorial Day weekend is also a somber time to remember those who have been lost fighting for freedom.
All cars will feature a fallen solider and the No. 4 Ford will represent Sergeant First Class Bryan Allen Hoover, 28th Military Police Company, who was killed in action on June 11, 2010.
SFC Hoover was a 10-year veteran who served four years in the Marines Corps prior to his service with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. He received a bachelor’s degree in Sport Management at California University of Pennsylvania in 2009 and was an avid runner and cross country coach. He also loved playing hockey. SFC Hoover was killed by a suicide bomber in the Zabul Province, Shajoy, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He left behind his beloved dog Newton, fiancé Ashley (Tack) Sherman, his father Melvin, brothers Rick (Sarah) and Ben, and his sister Samantha.
SFC Hoover is remembered by his comrades as an irreplaceable leader and friend.