NASCAR drivers are racing for their military friends and family this July 4th weekend
Look for the names of active military units and installations on race car windshields during Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway. In a show of appreciation for the United States Armed Forces, NASCAR XFINITY Series teams will replace the "XFINITY" logo with those of the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Marine Raider Battalion, the USS New York (LPD-21) and other military units and installations from all five branches. (Yes, NASCAR remembered the Coast Guard.)
Someone has to. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
NASCAR: An American Salute is an expression of respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend the United States. Last month, NASCAR together with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race teams honored 40 fallen service members with 600 Miles of Remembrance, a similar tribute during Memorial Day Weekend. Unlike many other major sporting events and leagues who "honor" the Armed Forces and those who serve, NASCAR is not being paid by the U.S. military to do so.
"NASCAR's long-standing tradition of honoring the U.S. Armed Forces will never waver – it is woven into the fabric of our sport," said Brent Dewar, NASCAR's chief operating officer. "We have a unique opportunity to pay tribute to the military units and bases integral to preserving our country's freedom."
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 LoudMouth Exhaust Ford, will sport the USS Comstock in Subway's Firecracker 250.
"It's really an honor to drive with the USS Comstock on the LoudMouth Exhaust Ford Mustang this weekend. Getting to know Jesse [Iwuji– Naval Academy graduate, surface warfare officer, and one of his fellow NASCAR drivers] has been really cool," Wallace said. "It's also pretty cool that the Comstock was the ship he most recently served on, to go along with the fact he's racing in the K&N West Series."
Several teams have direct connections to the units displayed on their race cars. Driver Brendan Gaughan's windshield will read "23RD STS," representing the U.S. Air Force's 23rd Special Tactics Squadron from Hurlburt Field in Florida. Gaughan is one of a handful of civilians recognized as an Honorary Member of the Combat Control Association.
U.S. Air Force Combat Controllers conduct air traffic control, fire support and command, control, and communications in covert or austere environments. (Photo: U.S. Air Force)
Elliott Sadler's windshield will recognize Fort Campbell for JR Motorsports employee Lee Langley, who served for six years at the Army base as an infantry team leader in the 101st Airborne. Ty Dillon and Brandon Jones both work with Hope 4 Warriors and will honor 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines and 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, respectively, from Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Justin Allgaier will honor the U.S. Air Force 469th Flight Training Squadron at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. One of Allgaier friends is Major Robert Harms, one of the pilots serving in that unit.
"I always look forward to getting a chance to pay homage those who serve our country at Daytona each year," Allgaier said. "This year there's a personal tie for me as I get to display the squadron of one of my friends. We love that we're able to support our military, but a sticker or event will never be enough to give them all the credit they deserve."
The Subway Firecracker 250 starts tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Saturday's Coke Zero 400 starts at 7:45 ET.