By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The final leg of the “West Coast Swing” will be an important one for Garrett Smithley, driver of the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, as he’ll have a special partnership for Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Smithley’s major partnership will be the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and 10 Tanker Air Carrier, with a goal of raising awareness for the CDF Benevolent Fund.
What makes the deal significant for the 26-year-old is that his father, RK Smithley, is a captain of the DC-10 aircraft that’s owned by the 10 Tanker Air Carrier, and has working ties with CAL FIRE, the largest fire department in California and third largest in the United States.
“Having the CDF Benevolent Fund on board this weekend hits very close to home,” Smithley explained. “My dad is a captain of the DC-10 aircraft owned and operated by 10 Tanker Air Carriers. His work ties directly into what CAL FIRE and the CDF Benelovent Fund are doing. To help raise awareness for such an important cause and to have my father here to share the moment is very special.”
RK will perform a flyover aboard a 10 Tanker Air Carrier DC-10 before the green flag drops in the Production Alliance Group 300 Xfinity Series race, where Garrett sits 17th in the championship standings, driving for JD Motorsports.
Garrett will also have a special guest attending his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of 2019.
Joe Tapia is a firefighter with the Butte County Fire Department, who’s faced personal hardship as he was one of the many families that were affected by the recent California wild fires.
Tapia, alongside his wife and 16-year-old son, lost their home and have since received support from the CDF Benevolent Fund, which their goal is not only to participate in exclusive charitable and educational activities that helps families of firefighters during financial hardships, but also assist burn victims and their families. Furthermore, the fund have supported research and studies on occupational hazards and exposures unique to firefighting.
“The fire ravaged our hometown of Paradise and destroyed our home of 20 years while I was engaged in safeguarding my community,” said Tapia. “My family was left homeless and with almost nothing, the immediate support provided by the foundation has come at a crucial time for my family as we rebuild our lives. My family and I will be forever grateful.”
To learn more about the CDF Benevolent Fund, and how to donate to the foundation, visit http://www.cdffirefighters.foundation/donate. You can also text “CDFRACECAR” to 77453 to donate.