On Saturday night, the second race of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs round of 16 at Richmond Raceway will take place amid a somber backdrop. This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and Flight 93 over Pennsylvania killed nearly 3,000 Americans and amounted to the single worst attack on the United States in the nation's history.
While the time elapsed between the events of 9/11, the memory of that day and its events has never been forgotten. And in NASCAR, this weekend's race will feature a multitude of tributes to the victims of 9/11 both on and around the track.
Many cars in the field for Saturday's Federated Auto Parts Salute to First Responders 400 will carry special paint schemes, several of which promote causes related to those affected by 9/11. Aric Almirola will run a commemorative paint scheme featuring Tuesday's Children, an organization that benefits those who lost loved ones due to the 9/11 attacks, post-9/11 military service, or other acts of mass violence and terrorism. Josh Bilicki, meanwhile, will run a paint scheme honoring first responders killed on 9/11.
Other drivers running commemorative paint schemes on their cars include Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain, Erik Jones, Garrett Smithley, and BJ McLeod. In addition, all cars in Saturday night's Cup race as well as the Xfinity Series race in the afternoon will carry a commemorative decal.
As we reflect on the events of 9/11, @SmithfieldBrand and The Gene Haas Foundation have committed to donating $50K to @Tuesdayschldrn, a nonprofit organization that supports families of those affected. The No. 10 car will also feature a commemorative scheme. pic.twitter.com/8QjQyreObb— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) September 8, 2021
Gearing up for @RichmondRaceway with Chesterfield Auto Parts and this 9/11 tribute scheme, which replicates the Richmond Fire Department trucks. Together, we’re remembering all of the first responders who lost their lives during 9/11. Read more 👇👇.https://t.co/QDGO4YyYOc pic.twitter.com/ixN8NTYt2c— Josh Bilicki (@joshbilicki) September 8, 2021
Saturday night at @RichmondRaceway we honor the memory of the men and women who lost their lives during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We commemorate the 20-year anniversary by paying tribute to those we will #NeverForget.@DoorDash l #TeamToyota pic.twitter.com/kFq5fUe2Rb— 23XI Racing (@23XIRacing) September 8, 2021
Prior to Saturday night's race, pace laps will be led by first responder vehicles, with race teams standing with and displaying American and 9/11 Memorial and Museum flags on pit road during this time. Small American flags will be distributed to fans prior to the race so they may participate in the commemoration.
In the speedway's midway, Richmond Raceway will display a large piece of steel salvaged from the 92nd and 95th floors of World Trade Center Tower 1 provided to the track by the Freedom Flag Foundation and Cranemasters. The piece of steel was installed in a 9/11 memorial ceremony on Thursday.
Recognition elements of this weekend's race have been shaped through a partnership between NASCAR and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. NASCAR will work with teams in both the Cup and Xfinity Series to identify unique items used during this weekend's races, which will later be auctioned off online through The NASCAR Foundation. All proceeds from such auctions will benefit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum's Never Forget Fund.
Richmond Raceway was the site of the last NASCAR race prior to 9/11, a race which was won by Ricky Rudd after a spirited duel with Kevin Harvick throughout the final laps. Harvick and Kurt Busch, both rookies at the time, are the only drivers entered in Saturday night's race who were also in the September 2001 race.