NASCAR has had a long history with supporting the men and women of the United States Armed Forces so it was fitting that on Memorial Day weekend the racing body would make a formal announcement late Thursday afternoon that they were launching, NASCAR: An American Salute Initiative at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR President Mike Helton made the announcement in the CMS media center and then joined Goodyear executives to show appreciation for the launch of the fourth annual “Goodyear Giving Back” Program to collect care packages at the track for military families.
Helton was joined by the general manager of global race tires for Goodyear, Stu Grant, Support Our Troops Martin Boyer, Goodyear marketing manager Kris Kienzl and driver of the No. 99 Ford, Carl Edwards.
“This is the fourth annual effort that Goodyear has supported to make this a very significant part of our season,” said Helton. “I want to thank Goodyear and their – not just their support but coming up with this very symbolic statement that our cars get to carry to say loudly, we hope, that men and women that have served in the United States military are not forgotten.”
There will be cars racing in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night that will carry their own messages of support but the one that will be most visible will be a special Goodyear tire that will have the brand name on the top side and SUPPORT OUR TROOPS on the other. Some NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors ran the special tires last weekend.
The initiative is an industry-wide effort to honor and celebrate members of the military, veterans and their families. This year’s campaign aspires to reach one million “salutes” to military members during the next six weeks where NASCAR fans, partners, drivers, teams, and tracks can send messages of gratitude at the track using the A Million Thanks drop boxes. They can also go to NASSCAR.com/Salutes and by using #NASCARSalutes on Instagram and Twitter.
While all the principles were addressing the media, Carl Edwards was busy with a laptop in front of him until he revealed he had started the bidding at $100 on one of his own tires up for auction. He would ultimately come away from the podium to personally autograph it.
“We do notice these tires end of missing from the garage area every now and again,” he joked. “I don’t know if that means anything. I think they’re desirable. There’s a blimp ride you can get too? That would be pretty neat.
“I just want to thank NASCAR and Goodyear for letting me to be a part of this. I’ve had the good fortune to be introduced to a lot of our troops, folks that are serving and folks who have served through all of NASCAR’s programs and the Joining Forces Initiative.”
Always the promoter, Edwards could not resist the opportunity to get in good graces with the Goodyear folks by saying he has their tires on everything, “from airplanes to motorhomes to race car and they work pretty well.”
Goodyear is matching up to $50,000 and according to Edwards, “there is some pretty neat stuff up there.”