By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch has gifted military veterans with opportunities of a lifetime.
Since the Daytona 500 earlier this year, the 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion has partnered with the Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) to send both active and retired military veterans, 100 veterans total, to NASCAR races throughout the season. 2,500 veterans minimum have attended races so far.
Busch praised the program and its’ success.
“It’s been fabulous. It’s a gift that keeps on giving with vettix.org helping manage the tickets for our Veterans. I bought 100 tickets for every race and then tracks started to jump in and donated another 100 tickets.”
The military veterans have come from many different areas, both close to the racetrack, as well as across the country. Busch has even met with some of the veterans that obtained pit passes. Other veterans have reached out to the driver of the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on social media.
The 2017 Daytona 500 Champion was ecstatic that so many veterans have taken part in the program.
“It seems like the motivation that they have with the free tickets to come to the race, they are obtaining pit passes from different sources and different connections. I bumped into a few of them wanting a picture and we repost things on my social quite a bit to really just say thank you and that the program is there for them.
“I’m glad they are all enjoying it. There are some that are coming to races for their first time and there some that live in the regions close to the race to where they don’t have a ton of travel costs.”
Several tracks, including New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Watkins Glen International pledged to bring more veterans to the track. NHMS gave race fans the option to buy and donate the tickets to bring more veterans to the racetrack. WGI meanwhile matched Busch’s donation of 100 tickets.
Busch’s manufacturer, Chevrolet, added 50 hot passes for veterans to be able to see the race from a different perspective. The veterans got to roam the garage area and pit road with access that is not seen in many other sports.
“I can’t thank the tracks enough and other fans,” Busch explained. “I think at New Hampshire, they opened it up for race fans to donate tickets. Whereas, most tracks threw in another chunk of 100. Chevrolet jumped in at the July Daytona race and added 50 hot pit passes for the men and women. Each track has had their own fun with it and again, it’s like a gift that keeps giving.”
With 13 races remaining in the season, at least another 1,300 military veterans will get to experience NASCAR for free.
Race fans can still donate to help send a military veteran to a race (or another event) by logging onto the Vet Tix website.