NASCAR ‘Never Forgets’ by Honoring the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 at Richmond International RacewayBy Kara Martin
As NASCAR’s last race of the “regular season” draws near, we can’t help but to be cognizant of the fact that Richmond’s September race always falls on or near the anniversary of 9/11. We will never forget that horrific day in 2001, just three days after Ricky Rudd claimed victory in the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond International Raceway (RIR), when terrorists systematically attacked our great nation and life as we knew it would change forever.
This year as we remember the tenth anniversary, RIR will honor America with what will no doubt be an extremely emotional ceremony. Hundreds of volunteers will be on hand to pass out American flags to all race attendees as they pass through the gates, collect donations for “NASCAR Unites”, part of the 9/11 “I Will” campaign and assist with the distribution and collection of post card messages for First Responders nationwide.
During the pre-race ceremonies, fans will stand in unison with Wounded Warriors, US Army Specialist Brendan Marrocco and Marine Corps Corporal Todd Nicely; who were the first and second Americans to lose all four limbs in combat and survive, as they recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Danny Rodriguez, who has become know as the “singing policeman from New York City” will sing God Bless America and the U.S. Army’s 29th Infantry Division Band from Ft. Belvoir, will perform the National Anthem. Fans are encouraged to wave their flags to show their respect and patriotism during the entire pre-race, as well as during the special moment of silence between laps nine and 11.
“Richmond International Raceway is unique in that every year since the 9/11 attacks our September race weekend has fallen on the weekend closest to 9/11,” commented Richmond International Raceway President Dennis Bickmeier. “It has always been important to us to recognize 9/11 and remember the victims and survivors, but even more so this weekend as we remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11. We are proud of our military and first responders; active, former and retired, and we are honored to have so many join us this weekend. I think our fans will find that this will be the most patriotic pre-race ceremony they have ever been a part of at Richmond International Raceway.”
During driver introductions, each of the Sprint Cup racers will cross the stage and exit into a tunnel of First Responders from Virginia. Each driver will then be partnered with a member of the “Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America” in a Chevrolet Silverado for a lap around the track, each carrying an American flag.
Virginia’s Henrico County Fire Department will display a large American flag from their ladder truck on the apron of the frontstretch, while the Charlottesville Fire Department ladder truck will be on display on the backstretch of the track. Five color guards will present our nations’ flags; Ft. Lee Army will be positioned on the pre-race pad, Central Virginia Combo Fire Team in Turn One, Virginia State Police in Turn Two, Newport News Police in Turn Three and the Naval Ocean Processing Facility in Turn Four.
To culminate the events and recognize the anniversary, fans at the track, television and radio broadcasters and the track announcer will go quiet for a moment of silence between laps nine through 11 to pause and remember the events that unfolded on Sept. 11, 2001.
“NASCAR takes great pride in the patriotism that the sport showcases every race weekend, and the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is a special opportunity for NASCAR to unite and recognize those we lost and honor those who responded with courage,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said. “Bringing together the various 9/11 tributes with the NASCAR Unites platform collectively demonstrates the giving nature of NASCAR fans and those who work in our sport.”
Join the 9/11 tribute movement at http://foundation.nascar.com/netcommunity/unites to view gratitude and remembrance by drivers, crews, sponsors, tracks and fans as they honor the tenth year anniversary of 9/11 or to create your own accolade by thanking a First Responder for their service and dedication by sending an online post card.