For the fifth year in a row, NASCAR will honor American servicemen and women and their families starting Memorial Day weekend and running through Independence Day on July 4. The event is officially called “NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola.” It is “an industry-wide expression of respect, appreciation and reverence for those who have served the nation both past and present.”
“NASCAR has always taken immense pride in honoring the military men and women who’ve bravely served our nation,” NASCAR President Steve Phelps said. “Each year, NASCAR Salutes unites our industry to celebrate these heroes and their families and recognize them for the sacrifices made to preserve our freedoms.”
Over 5,000 Active Duty, Veterans, and Families to Be Honored
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The first event to kick-off the season of honoring military heroes will take place at the Charlotte Motor Speedway with the recurrence of the 600 Miles of Remembrance race honoring the fallen.
The Charlotte Motor Speedway will host over 5,000 active duty and military veterans and their families for the event. A pre-race Salute to the Troops, encompassing all five branches of the U.S. military will take place as well.
Jimmie Johnson Honors a Fallen Hero
North Carolinian NASCAR phenom Jimmie Johnson will be driving a camouflage-painted car on Sunday in honor of those who have died in war. Johnson’s grandfather fought in WWII and his brother-in-law died while training for combat. Johnson’s car is embossed with the name of Army Sgt. Richard Donlan, who died in combat during the Vietnam conflict.
“The sacrifices those families make for our freedom, there is no way to say thank you enough. I think that is what makes this all so special,” Johnson said. “It’s our turn to say thank you.”
“I have been close to it and around it, and while I didn’t live with it directly what military families go through I have a good understanding of it,” he continued.
As Memorial Day is specifically for military members who have died in service to their country, the NASCAR Salutes Refreshed strives to focus on its mission of “Remembrance, Family, Future and Patriotism.” Events surrounding the upcoming races will be in honor of Gold Star families — the term given to families who have lost loved ones in war. One event this weekend is a hosted brunch by Chef Robert Irvine. It’s for Gold Star families and dedicated to remembering their loved ones.
The 600 Miles of Remembrance is billed as the largest Memorial Day event in the country and NASCAR fans not in attendance can watch it live on air at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.