Earnhardt Jr. and Florida Guardsmen unveil car design for July 4 race

Written by  //  July 3, 2009  //  Feature Stories

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 3, 2009) —It’s sleek. It’s black. And more than 400,000 members of the National Guard are hoping it’s fast enough to put NASCAR’s most popular driver in Victory Lane on July 4.

During a recruiting event at the Daytona Beach Bandshell Wednesday evening, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Florida Army National Guard Soldiers unveiled a special paint scheme on the No. 88 Chevrolet that he will drive during the upcoming Coke Zero 400 race.

NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr. poses with members of the Florida Army National Guard during an unveiling of the car he will race in the Coke Zero 400, during an event in Daytona Beach, Fla., July 1, 2009. Pictured with Earnhardt are Spc. Bower (left) 1st Lt. Anna Peck, and Staff Sgt. Glenn Wade. The custom designed car is black and features an Army Combat Uniform design. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

The black and digital camouflage race car was unveiled during the National Guard’s Battle of the Bands event, drawing hundreds of screaming fans hoping to get a glimpse of Earnhardt with his “ride” for Saturday’s race.

Earnhardt, who is in his second year as driver of the National Guard/Amp Energy-sponsored No.88 car, said that he normally tries to have 100 percent control over the paint scheme, but for this race the design was “entirely the Guard’s idea.”

“I loved it. I thought it was great,” he said during a sit-down interview after the unveiling. “The digital camo car we did last year was a lot of fun. We’ve done it before – they did it with Casey (Mears) before – so we wanted to do something like that but not entirely the same. I think this is a great looking car.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he added. “I think it’ll look good on the racetrack.”

Earnhardt noted he enjoys driving the race cars with the unique paint schemes as “a change of pace for a week.”

During a question and answer session Earnhardt talked with the crowd about his partnership with the National Guard and his level of respect for the men and women serving in uniform.

“The military is not a product on a shelf that you go to the store and buy” he said. “It’s a commitment, it’s a lifestyle…It’s a heavy, heavy responsibility, and I take a lot of pride in it. It really makes me feel great about our country when we go to the racetrack and we see all the Guard’s men and women supporting us each week.”

The free Battle of the Bands event was open to the public, and also featured a VIP autograph session with Earnhardt, information about National Guard opportunities, NASCAR souvenir giveaways and a competition between three local Florida bands. Hard rock band Evil Pretty was chosen by Earnhardt as the winner of the Battle of the Bands.