There’s no better sense of patriotic pride or national unity than when a crowd starts to chant our country’s name. Tonight, during the Cup Series at Richmond Raceway in Virginia, NASCAR encouraged fans to celebrate and commemorate the victims and heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
NASCAR has dedicated this weekend to honor the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The organization teamed up with the 9/11 memorial to bring a 1,100-pound piece of steel from the World Trade Center to the raceway’s grounds and even created a Wall of Remembrance. Also as part of the celebration is a specially painted car inspired by the Ground Zero Tribute in Light that shines every year on 9/11. Not to mention, the organization will be donating $120,000 to the Tunnel to Towers Foundation which supports and honors affected first responders and their families.
But the patriotic mission didn’t stop there. On top of all of these heartwarming initiatives, NASCAR also welcomed a couple of different types of vehicles onto the track. In front of the usual racers, a Richmond firetruck and two police cars lead the way for the pace laps as the announcer encouraged fans to stand. The fire truck, packed full of station members, sounded its siren as it continued its honorary journey. Meanwhile, in the stands, fans waved their American flags high and cheered before falling into a “U.S.A.” chant. The pride fans felt literally echoed across the stadium. Pit crews on the outskirts of the tracks respectfully held up their own full-sized flags. Some members even held special 9/11 Memorial flags for the duration of the ceremony.
See the moment of national pride in the video below.
Driver Says NASCAR is ‘Most Patriotic’ Sporting Organization
Among the proud Americans at the Richmond Raceway was NASCAR racer, Garrett Smithley who expressed the significance of this weekend’s tribute to the 9/11 survivors, victims and first responders.
“It’s an honor to be in a sport like NASCAR, that comes together and allows us to do these tributes,” Smithley told Fox News. “I would say it’s the most patriotic major sporting organization, I would say, in the world.”
When the terrorist attacks occurred 20 years ago, Smithley was only in fourth grade in Virginia. Since then, he’s become a proud patriot, advocating for the flag and National Anthem. Smithley has several servicemembers in his family, including both grandfathers. As such, he has a deep respect for all members of the military.
“My parents raised me to love the American flag. The national anthem was pretty much the first song that I ever learned,” the NASCAR driver explained. “I sang it when I was three-years-old at a church function, so again I’ve just always been very, very, patriotic. Very passionate about the military, very passionate about the flag.”