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Oct 13, 2013 - 02:44 AM
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NASCAR Legend Honored, Wounded Veterans Receive Special Gift
Posted by: newsla on Oct 13, 2013 - 02:43 AM
NASCAR Legend Honored, Wounded Veterans Receive Special Gift Before Bank of America 500

Pit Note #13

WADDELL WILSON EARNS SMOKEY YUNICK AWARD – Former NASCAR engine builder and crew chief Waddell Wilson was presented with the prestigious Smokey Yunick Award this afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Smokey Yunick Award recognizes an individual who rose from humble beginnings to make a major impact in motorsports. The award was first given in 1997 and is named in honor of the legendary mechanic and car owner who passed away in 2001.


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“I was floored when I heard I had won this,” said Wilson. “I could not imagine with all of the people to pick from they chose me. It’s more than an honor with all the people I have been around and worked with and come up through the ranks with. And all of them I know that deserve this more than I do.”

Charlotte Motor Speedway president and general manager Marcus Smith presented Wilson with the award.

“He shied away from the spotlight, but his tireless efforts were a driving force behind some of the sport’s greatest drivers and he is a most deserving recipient of the Smokey Yunick Award,” Smith said.

In his career, Wilson won Daytona 500 three times as a crew chief and engine builder. His engine powered the car that Benny Parsons used to turn the first 200 mph lap in NASCAR history. Wilson has 109 wins to his credit as an engine builder and 13 as a crew chief. Wilson also served instrumental roles with Cale Yarborough Motorsports, Darrell Waltrip Motorsports and Larry Hedrick Motorsports. He retired from racing in 2000.

Former NASCAR driver and ESPN commentator Ricky Craven benefited from Wilson’s experience. “I could not have won Rookie of the Year without him,” said Craven. “He is not only one of the best people I know, he is a great family man.”

WOUNDED WARRIORS SERVE AS GRAND MARSHALS – Two injured servicemen are serving as the Grand Marshals for the Bank of America 500. British Army Royal Engineer, Pvt. Karl Boon from Manchester, United Kingdom and Staff Sgt. Calvin James, U.S. Army National Guard, Fort Bragg, are serving as Grand Marshals for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 tonight.

Both were wounded during service in Afaganistan. Boon lost his left leg and James suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I think this is on a bigger scale here than anything I have seen,” said James. “Ever since I have gotten here I have had so much fun. Everything the USO does for us and the people have been great. To get to be Grand Marshal and start the race; this had just been a wonderful experience.”

“We got here with the help of Mission Motorsports,” said Boon. “They help with the United Kingdom and the United States as well. This is great because this is completely different from any sports we have over in the UK. It’s good to see a completely different side to motorsports. We haven’t seen as much as there is to see yet but so far it has been quite an experience. And it’s one I want to experience again.”

SHELL/PENNZOIL GIVES WOUNDED VETS NEW VANS – Officials from Shell/Pennzoil and Penske Racing were on hand during prerace activities to award two fully equipped conversion vans to paralyzed United States service veterans.

In the second year of their commitment to veterans, more than $250,000 was given to help paralyzed veterans and more than $150,000 was used to convert the vans.

In making the announcement Paralyzed Veterans executive Al Kovac, who himself is a paralyzed veteran, noted how proud they were to help in this project.

“These guys were in service to our country and became permanently paralyzed from that service,” said Kovac. “Paralyzed Veterans has been around for 67 years and tried to preserve the lives of these veterans.

The two recipients are Hank Gifford from Minnesota and John Scott from Omaha, Neb.

“This whole thing is just surreal,” said Gifford. “I just can’t believe it. It’s beautiful. What can I say?”

“It’s totally unbelievable,” said Scott. “It’s one very humbling experience. It’s great.”

NASCAR team owner Roger Penske and drivers Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski helped unveil the new vans.

“This is really a special day,” said Penske. “As we think about our country and freedom, we think about all the people who serve so well and keep us a free and wonderful country. These are men that really make a difference. It’s amazing how the NASCAR community gets together on things like this.”

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