DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR will take its turn to remember the victims of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.
NASCAR and Swan Racing announced on Thursday a tribute to raise awareness and contributions for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund during the Feb. 24 Daytona 500.
Swan Racing will change its No. 30 Toyota to No. 26 in honor of the 20 children and six adults killed in the shooting. The car will be driven by two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip and will feature a call-to-action decal encouraging the NASCAR community to make $10 donations by texting NEWTOWN to 80888.
The Sandy Hook School Support Fund, established jointly by United Way of Western Connecticut and Newtown Savings Bank, supports the healing process for the broader Newtown community, including children, teachers, first responders, families, residents, mental health professionals, counselors and others, according to a release by Swan Racing.
NASCAR chairman Brian France also announced that he and his wife, Amy, would kick off the industry support with a $50,000 donation that will be matched by The NASCAR Foundation.
“Being in Newtown last week and delivering a moment of happiness to that community was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” France said. “Looking out at a room of smiling faces amid the aftermath of a horrible tragedy was very powerful.”
Wheeler promotes short track safety
Longtime racing promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler has added his voice to the calls for improved safety on short-oval tracks in America, including the mandatory use of certified head restraints.
“In my opinion, the safety problem on the short tracks has reached an epidemic,” said Wheeler. “It needs to be addressed by all of the sanctioning bodies as well as the promoters who operate these tracks independently.”
Wheeler is a former promoter of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and has served on the board of the National Head Injury Foundation. He is chairman of The Wheeler Company, a sports consulting firm.
He cited a presentation by HANS Performance Products at the International Motor Sports Industry Show Safety and Technical Conference in December. The study showed an increase in deaths on short ovals in the U.S. during the 10 years after Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s fatal accident and identified 24 fatal accidents that likely could have been prevented by use of a head restraint.
Papis gets deal with RCR
Veteran road racer Max Papis is scheduled to compete in three Nationwide Series races for Richard Childress Racing in the No. 33 Chevrolet, including two road course races and one oval event. The Como, Italy, native is scheduled to drive at Iowa Speedway on June 8, Road America in Wisconsin on June 22, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 17.
Keselowski headed to TV booth
Reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski will join NASCAR on Fox host Chris Myers and Michael Waltrip in studio during Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited.