With the Coca-Cola 600 taking place on Sunday, May 30, NASCAR‘s top drivers are unveiling the special paint schemes that they will run during the special race. Kurt Busch was one of the first to showcase his scheme, which he unveiled during a special ceremony at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Fla.
Busch and Chip Ganassi Racing headed down to Florida in early May to reveal the special paint scheme. He met with service members stationed on the U.S.S. Jason Dunham, which bears the name of fallen service member U.S. Marine Corporal (Cpl.) Jason Dunham. President George W. Bush posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Cpl. Dunham in 2004. This was the first Medal of Honor awarded to a United States Marine since the Vietnam war.
Busch revealed during the ceremony that he will drive the 600 Miles of Remembrance with Cpl. Dunham’s name on the windshield of his No. 1 GEARWRENCH Chevrolet Camaro. He then spent time talking to the service members and touring the U.S.S. Jason Dunham.
“Incredible honor today to tour the USS Jason Dunham, named after the fallen service member whose name will be on my No. 1 [GEARWRENCH tools] [Chevy] for the [Coca-Cola 600]. His sacrifice, along with the countless other heroes, will never be forgotten,” Busch wrote on Instagram after spending the day in Florida.
Busch has a special connection to the military
The 2004 NASCAR champion has spent much of his career finding ways to show his support for those that served in the military. He always uses the Coca-Cola 600 to put the name of a fallen service member on his vehicle and he tries to provide tickets to races for those that have served and their family members.
For example, Busch partnered with the Veterans Tickets Foundation in 2019 and 2020 to give away 100 sets of tickets to each race on the schedule. The Cup champion paid for the tickets and provided them, starting at the Daytona 500 and moving through the season. He paid for 3,800 tickets in 2019 through this special program.
Busch had to make some adjustments in 2020 due to COVID-19 and certain tracks not allowing fans. He had to put the program temporarily on hold due to various lockdowns across the country. Though Busch said at the time that he was trying to find ways to simultaneously provide tickets to service members and frontline workers.
The 2020 Coca-Cola 600 featured a special tribute
Prior to the previous Coca-Cola 600, Busch revealed that he would put a special name on the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro. He listed Construction Electrician Petty Officer Second Class (US Navy) Phil Grieser on his stock car. Grieser died from injuries suffered in a rocket attack near the camp of Seabee team 1013 on May 18, 1969. He also served with team member Doug Newell’s father.
Newell initially approached the race team with the idea of putting Grieser’s name on the vehicle. He was familiar with Busch’s passion for the military and knew that the veteran driver would want to work with him on the project.
Grieser’s family did not have the opportunity to attend the Coca-Cola 600 due to COVID-19. However, Chip Ganassi Racing held a special ceremony to ensure that they would experience the moment of seeing the name on the windshield. The family drove from Ohio to North Carolina and watched as Busch’s race team pushed the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro out of the shop, providing them to be up close and personal with the tribute. Busch even showed up during the ceremony to surprise the family.
One year after the special tribute, Busch will return to Charlotte Motor Speedway while honoring a Medal of Honor recipient. There will be fans on hand for the annual race now that Charlotte Motor Speedway has removed the capacity restrictions, and they will join the Cup Series drivers in honoring active and fallen military members.