Folks who work in the NASCAR industry are fortunate. We love what we do and we’re part of the most exciting sport there is.
But apart from the daily responsibilities that make our jobs enjoyable, there are a few projects that make us truly grateful, on a deeper level, to be involved in a sport that gives back.
One of those projects was just announced last week.
On May 16 during the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will race a special car for USMC Gunnery Sgt. Thomas McRae – a man who has given just about everything for his country.
Thomas (Tom) McRae enlisted in the Marines at age 18. He served three tours of duty in Iraq before eventually serving in Afghanistan, where he was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries inflicted during a mortar attack.
It was during McRae’s second deployment to Afghanistan that at age 29 he suffered catastrophic injuries.
It was a January day in 2012, and McRae was on foot patrol investigating one improvised explosive device (IED), when a second one detonated directly under him. The injuries he received were so devastating, that McRae not only lost both legs and his left arm, but he sustained blast-related injuries to his brain and the loss of the vision in his right eye.
Since that fateful day, McRae has had to undergo an endless number of serious operations. He is also a devoted single dad to daughter Aidan, the blonde-haired six-year-old who is the light of his life.
Last week, our partners at Roush Fenway Racing and The Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced that they are joining forces with us to give back to this Marine and his daughter.
Stenhouse’s paint scheme on May 16 will feature a personal tribute to Thomas McRae. But that night is more than a Marine’s name on a race car. It’s more than a patriotic paint scheme to make fans feel good.
This car, and a portion of its die-cast proceeds, will benefit McRae and other veterans like him in a real way. Through the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s “Building for America’s Bravest” program, this one race car will raise awareness and funds for the construction of high-tech smart homes that allow wounded veterans like McRae to live independent lives.
Also, at 11 a.m., Thursday, May 22, McRae will again be honored during a special event at Roush Fenway Racing Fan Day in Concord, NC. Team owner Jack Roush, driver of the No. 17 Ford Fusion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., along with representatives from The Tunnel to Towers Foundation and Lionel Racing will be on hand to publicly honor this Marine and his family.
The public is invited to attend and join in the tribute to McRae and then stay to tour the Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s 9/11 “Never Forget” Mobile Exhibit. The artifacts on display in the exhibit were specially selected by members of the FDNY to capture what Ground Zero was like on 9/11. They include World Trade Center steel and a piece of aluminum facade from the Twin Towers.
For the Lionel Racing team at least, this will be one of those days that make us even prouder to be part of NASCAR nation.
We invite you to join us.