One of the special things about being a race car driver is that I get to meet a lot of people. I try to sign a lot of autographs and listen to as many fans’ stories as possible every race season. Some of their stories can be cool like old racing tales or how far they’ve traveled to a race, while others can even be strange. But then there are some that really pull at your heart strings. I enjoy the conversations that come from each interaction, but more often than not, there is one topic that really gets my attention.
“Hey, thanks for honoring my brother at Atlanta.”
“Man, it was cool to see my grandfather’s name on your car.”
When I hear these phrases, it always makes me smile because I know they are talking about our special Tribute2Veterans Autotrader car.
It will never get old to have fans approach me with their stories about their friends, family members and heroes who were honored on my No. 2 Autotrader Ford the past two years. It’s a great feeling knowing how much people value that opportunity to see those familiar names on board my car.
Some of you may remember, but the special Tribute2Veterans design showed up at Atlanta this year. There were more than 200 military members’ names on the car, all submitted by fans. Each of those fans graciously donated to the Checkered Flag Foundation to help raise money for our veterans, and I’m forever grateful for that support.
Thinking back to Atlanta, I felt under the weather all race weekend long and was even a bit skeptical about how we’d be able to run with the new rules package in effect. I honestly don’t think I could’ve predicted how it would turn out. But there were definitely moments where I’d reflect on how the Tribute 2 Veterans weekend was about something much greater than myself – it was about the heroes riding along on the No. 2. Coincidence we ended up in Victory Lane that day?
Many of you have come to recognize my signature patriotic burnout, and that weekend in Atlanta, it took on a whole new meaning. Having our first win of the season felt so good, but knowing those names were on the car made it even more special. It’s a moment that I’ll never forget.
Paige and I are honored that our Checkered Flag Foundation will be able to partner with Autotrader again to bring back the Tribute2Veterans scheme. I believe that part of my responsibility as a race car driver is to give back, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than by supporting those who selflessly sacrifice their lives for us.
If you have a military member you would like to honor on my car in 2020, visit the Foundation website here: https://bit.ly/2oxCl07
Each submission will receive a personalized certificate and a commemorative poster of the No. 2 Autotrader Ford Mustang displaying the veteran names. I’m hoping to see a lot of these at autograph sessions to come where I can continue to have some of my favorite conversations.
As we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Foundation in 2020, I can’t think of a better way to jumpstart our year than with the return of Tribute2Veterans. My family and I could not be more proud to honor those who sacrifice for us.