[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”227″][/media-credit]On the weekend before the Fourth of July, the driver of the famed No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports car, Aric Almirola, is celebrating a new partnership with Eckrich and Operation Homefront at Kentucky Motor Speedway.
“I’m excited to be sporting the colors of Eckrich at Kentucky for our first of three races for them,” Almirola said. “It’s always fun to have new paint schemes and new partners on our car.”
Eckrich, part of the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, specializes in providing premium-quality meat products to families throughout the country. This is the first race of a three-race program where their colors and logo will be on Almirola’s race car.
“The paint scheme’s really nice,” Almirola said. “It’s hunter green and brings out a lot of the Eckrich colors and logo.”
“It’s a nice looking car and it will pop out really well on the race track.”
In addition to his dedicated sponsor, however, the young Petty Motorsports racer is also thrilled with the new patriotic partnership with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that helps over 590,000 military families in need.
“More importantly is not only our involvement with Eckrich, but also our involvement with Operation Homefront through Eckrich,” Almirola continued. “It’s a neat deal and a great way to give back to our military families.”
“Anytime you look at the fact that we get to wake up every morning and do whatever we want because of people out there fighting for our freedom is pretty cool,” Almirola said. “The military families make huge sacrifices for us to do that.”
“For Eckrich to give back to military families and donate money and donate food and product to help out those in need, it’s just a great cause.”
“I think a lot of people take for granted the sacrifices made so that all of us to not worry about bombs flying over our heads,” Almirola continued. “We live in a protected and free country and it all has to do with the people in our military and their families.”
“To have a group like Eckrich, who gives back to an organization like Operation Homefront, I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
Many fans may also not realize that for Almirola, this patriotic partnership is personal.
“I was actually born in Eglin Air Force base in Panama City,” Almirola said. “My dad was in the Air Force when I was born and when I was growing up.”
“So, I have lived being in a military family.”
Almirola is also excited about the promotion at the track as a part of this new partnership between Petty Motorsports, Eckrich and Operation Homefront. He is particularly pleased with the specially designed tire bank to collect change to help military families in need.
“The people at Richard Petty Motorsports put together a tire bank from the tire we raced over Memorial Day weekend,” Almirola said. “It’s a Goodyear tire that has on the sidewall ‘Support Our Troops.’
“We took one of those tires and made a bank to put out at the track,” Almirola continued. “Hopefully, when fans are walking by they can put a nickel, a dime or a quarter or anything they have into the bank to help Operation Homefront.”
“We’re looking to add to the cause.”
While Eckrich kicked off the campaign with $200,000 in donations from their product sales, both Almirola and Richard Petty put 43 cents into the tire bank to get that effort started.
“That’s what we’re looking for, that everyone who walks by that tire bank will put in 43 cents,” Almirola said. “43 is a special number to Richard Petty, RPM and me so that’s the key number we’re looking for.”
“But at the end of the day, if you don’t have 43 cents, if you have a nickel or a dime or three pennies, we hope you stick it in there,” Almirola continued. “Ten cents can really make a difference when you start adding them together.”
Almirola’s team owner echoed his driver’s sentiments when it came time to share the spare change to benefit Operation Homefront.
“I’m always looking for a place to throw my spare change and thought this racing bank was just about perfect,” Petty said. “We’ve always been a family and race team that wants to give back to the people who sacrifice so much for us.”
“Hopefully the fans will keep filling up this bank as a simple way to say, ‘thanks’ to all our military families.”
Almirola also has another special event planned at the race track this weekend. He will be entertaining one special military family in his pit stall.
“The family is from right here in Kentucky and we plan on showing them a good time,” Almirola said. “That will be our way of thanking them for all their sacrifices.”
With patriotism on his mind, Almirola also revealed his plans for the upcoming Independence Day holiday.
“I think we’re going to be celebrating that day at Richard Petty’s birthday party,” Almirola said. “They’re having a 75th birthday party for him down there at Daytona.”
“We’re planning on celebrating the Fourth of July with RP so that will be a lot of fun.”
“Independence Day to me is about truly that,” Almirola continued. “It’s about the fact that we live in a country that is independent and free and that we get to do what we want.”
“I get to drive a race car for a living,” Almirola said. “It’s incredible to be able to think that is even reality.”
“I’m just very thankful to live in the United States and I’m proud to be an American citizen.”