Story By: PETE STUART / NASCAR – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola, (#NASCARSalutes) a continued effort to show appreciation for the United States Armed Forces, concludes with two full weekends of military appreciation at Chicagoland Speedway and Daytona International Speedway, where a NASCAR Xfinity Series windshield header salute to military units and installations will take place during the Circle K Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola.
“For NASCAR as an industry, it’s a privilege to honor the military men and women who protect our country’s freedom,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “As we culminate NASCAR Salutes in Chicago and Daytona Beach, we remain humbled by the opportunity to recognize our military community and thank service members for the sacrifices made on our behalf.”
Through the NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola race weekends, “Future” will be the celebrated theme during the Chicagoland Speedway Camping World 400 race weekend alongside the 10th anniversary of NASCAR Troops to the Track hosted by Coca-Cola, a season-long initiative that pays tribute to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces by inviting service members from local military installations to a VIP race day experience. At Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR Official Partners Comcast, Mack Trucks and SiriusXM will provide a behind-the-scenes look at their work in the sport and veteran-hiring efforts, showcasing opportunities within the industry as they consider their future transitions to civilian life.
For the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway, a patriotic red, white and blue Comcast NBCUniversal “Salute to Service” paint scheme will adorn Jeffrey Earnhardt’s No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing Toyota Supra and raise awareness of Comcast’s military community hiring efforts. Comcast NBCUniversal is committed to hiring 21,000 military community members – veterans, National Guard and reserve members, and military spouses by the end of 2021.
Camping World, parent company of NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series entitlement partner and sponsor of the Chicagoland Speedway race weekend, provided more than 2,500 tickets to the military community for the race weekend. Additionally, local service members with their families will receive grandstand tickets and access to NASCAR Xfinity Series race day activities on behalf of Comcast.
As part of the NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola “Patriotism”-themed weekend at Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will bear the names of active military units and installations on their race car windshields during the Circle K Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on July 5 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The 3rd Infantry Division, 33rd Fighter Wing, and aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) are among the groups from all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces that will replace the Xfinity header on NASCAR Xfinity Series race cars for the fourth-consecutive year.
NASCAR Xfinity Series teams were given the opportunity to identify a unit or installation to honor for the Circle K Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, while NASCAR worked with Comcast’s Military and Veteran Affairs team to match units with the remaining teams for the tribute. Many teams have connections to the units being honored on their cars, such as Cole Custer’s team, who will honor the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, where crew chief Mike Shiplett’s family member serves. The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 team will honor the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Arkansas National Guard, where driver Brandon Jones’ cousin serves.
New for the NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola race weekend at Daytona International Speedway is a free Coca-Cola fan element in the midway where a local Publix chef will offer food samples, Coca-Cola products and the opportunity to write a “thank you” message to the military community. A VIP section is available for military members and their families by showing their military ID.
For the 11th consecutive year, Daytona International Speedway will honor two Medal of Honor recipients throughout the race weekend. Honorees include Retired U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell (Vietnam) and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ronald Shurer II (Afghanistan). Retired U.S. Army Colonel Hal Kushner, a Daytona Beach resident who served in Vietnam and was held as a prisoner of war for more than five years, will drive the Honorary Pace Truck for the 61st annual Coke Zero Sugar 400 on Saturday, July 6 at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
In addition, all active, veteran and retired military members and their families will have access a Midway suite within the Daytona facility on Saturday where they can take a break from the busy day of activities to cool off and enjoy complimentary Coca-Cola products and snacks. The suite will be accessible from 3 p.m. through the end of Stage 1 of the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Throughout the day, various special guests will visit the suite and participate in Q&A sessions including Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace at 4:45 p.m.