Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Boston Relief Fund exposed by NASCAR drivers in Kansas


Ricky Stenhouse Jr., team owner Jack Roush, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards hold a banner in support
of the Boston Marathon attack victims
last week at Kansas. Credit: Ed Zurga/Getty Images
The world was struck with tragedy last Monday afternoon at the Boston Marathon. Runners, families, and friends who were gathered all around were rattled by not one, but two separate explosions that went off at ground level sending ball bearings and other pieces of shrapnel into the innocent bystanders near the finish line.

While officials were sorting out the details and closing in on the suspects, things got worse. On Thursday night, the two suspects shot and killed young MIT officer Sean Collier in his patrol car, hijacked a man’s vehicle, and ended up getting into a car chase and a gun battle where one suspect lost his life. The other suspect was injured but did manage to evade police until Friday when he was captured in a boat one block outside the search perimeter. Now with the suspects no longer a threat, the healing process can begin.

The tragedy affected people worldwide. This including members of the NASCAR community on a personal front. Collier, the MIT officer, was the brother of an employee at Hendrick Motorsports, in the engine shop.

Jimmie Johnson swims a couple times a week at the Charlotte Athletic Club, where Nicole Gross is a personal trainer and a swimming instructor. Gross was injured during the blast that occurred at the finish line. Even though Johnson does not know her on a personal level, he still knows who she is, and it strikes close to home for him.

Another NASCAR connection to the bombing was former PR representative Demi Clark. Clark, was near the impact zone as she was coming up to the finish line. Clark's husband and two daughters were sitting in the VIP section across the street from the first blast zone, watching her finish the race. She was lucky and did not suffer any injuries because she was running next to the wooden fence just 100 feet before the the finish line. Clark had moved closer to the other side of the street so her kids could see her finish. 


Michael Waltrip, NASCAR driver, broadcast team member and team owner, ran in the Boston Marathon in 2000, and knows how runners and their families feel to partake in the amazing event. In honor of the victims, Waltrip changed the styles of numbers on the Toyota Camrys of Martin Truex Jr., Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer at Kansas Speedway to represent the ribbons the runners pinned on while participating in the marathon.  

Drivers sent out their thoughts for the victims and their loved ones during interviews every chance they could, including Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer. Jeff Gordon said, “It’s someone that related to our team and that we know how that is going to affect this team and their family. Definitely, our thoughts and prayers are with them and that whole situation is just so tragic. I think not just our country, the whole world was watching in kind of shock and disbelief of what has happened there. Somebody has been affected by it and has lost their life that is associated with our organization. We take that to heart.”

Jack Roush, founder and co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, announced earlier in the week that he would make a donation to the Boston Marathon Victims fund. Roush stated he would donate $100 for every lap lead by Ford Fusion drivers: Carl Edwards in the No. 99, Greg Biffle in the No. 16 and rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 17. The drivers sported the Boston Red Sox decal “B-Strong.” Roush did this because co-owner John Henry, principle owner of Fenway Sports Group, owns the Boston Red Sox. The drivers also had a decal, “617,” the area code for Boston, to help raise awareness for fundraising for the victims of the bombing. Edwards started second in the STP 400, finished 17th and lead 19 laps for a total of $1,900 toward the Boston Relief Fund. Edwards is now sixth in points. Edwards' teammate Stenhouse Jr. started the STP 400 in third, finished 11th and lead 26 laps for a total of $2600 toward the Boston Relief Fund. Stenhouse Jr. is now 18th in points. With a combined total of 45 laps lead between the Roush Fenway drivers, Jack Roush will donate an additional $4,500 to the Boston Relief Fund on top of his personal donation.

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing crew chief Kevin Manion did not have any family members or friends who were directly involved in the bombing, but he is from Boylston, Mass., which is only 50 miles from Boston. He has been impacted by this tragedy just knowing that it happened in his home state, and not that far from his hometown.

Drivers sported a ribbon in honor of all the families, friends and victims of this senseless tragedy, hoping to bring awareness to the fundraising efforts and that it will bring some sort of comfort to them knowing these athletes are thinking of them and wishing them well in this time of healing. Swan Racing, with driver David Stremme, showed their support by running a "Pray for Boston" ribbon on the hood of the car. 

In the wake of a national tragedy, everyone stops for a moment and thinks about family, friends and even people from their past. That rings true even in the world of sports. NASCAR drivers, owners, and employees have come together to help one another directly or indirectly affected by the tragedy try and begin the healing process. 

The outpouring of thoughts, support and awareness is a great reminder why NASCAR is not just a family sport; it is an American sport. They will always do what they can to give back to the people who help keep NASCAR what it is today, not just sponsors or team owners, but the fans. Together we are not just strong - we are Boston Strong.

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