A little more than a month ago Swan Racing owner Brandon Davis announced that Michael Waltrip would be behind the wheel of his No. 30 Toyota for the 55th running of Daytona 500. It would reunite the two-time winner of The Great American Race with his former crew chief Tony Eury Jr.
Waltrip is the owner of Cornelius, North Carolina based Michael Waltrip Racing and has a one race deal with Davis and Swan, but today it was learned he will not be piloting the No. 30 car a week from Sunday as he will join NASCAR and Swan Racing to pay tribute to Newtown, Connecticut community in a specially designed No. 26 Sandy Hook School Support Fund Toyota Camry to honor the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“Driving the No. 26 Sandy Hook School Support Fund Toyota is like nothing I have ever been part of in my NASCAR career,” Waltrip said in a release. “It will be an emotional week knowing that we have the potential to do so much good for the Newtown community. I’m racing for a reason.”
The No. 26 will prominently feature a call-to-action decal encouraging the NASCAR community to make $10 donations by texting NEWTOWN to 80888. In addition, all three of Waltrip’s MWR cars, the No. 15 driven by Clint Boyer, No. 55 with Mark Martin and No. 56 piloted by Martin Truex, will run the “text NEWTOWN to 80888” decal for the Daytona 500.
“Americans everywhere are heartbroken about the tragedy in Newtown and Swan Racing is proud to join NASCAR and the United Way of Western Connecticut to help the community move forward,” said Davis.
The tribute came together after a private meeting with town officials, community leaders, first responders and victims’ families last week in Newtown. 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. One hundred percent of the funds raised for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund go to meet the needs of the Newtown community.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France also announced today that he and his wife Amy would personally kick off the NASCAR industry support with a $50,000 donation that will be matched by The NASCAR Foundation, a 501(c) (3) non-profit that embodies the compassion of the NASCAR family and its commitment to serving communities.
“Being in Newtown last week and delivering a moment of happiness to that community was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” said France. “Looking out at a room of smiling faces amidst the aftermath of a horrible tragedy was very powerful. It hit me that the NASCAR industry and our passionate fan base have an unbelievable opportunity to rally around this cause and make a huge difference for a community in need. I am excited to witness firsthand the NASCAR community’s embrace and support of the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.”
For those who do not have the ability to text or wish to choose another method, donations can also be made online at newtown.uwwesternct.org or by mail to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown, CT, 06470