Unveiling of Trevor Bayne car to honor Pat Summitt
Pat Summitt tries to get inside Trevor Bayne's race car
The “We Back Pat” Racing promotion and NASCAR Nationwide Series race car were unveiled Friday at Thompson-Boling Arena, just a few feet from “The Summitt” basketball floor where UT’s legendary women’s coach developed eight national championship teams.
“Trevor is such a great young man, and I feel honored he wanted to ‘Back Pat’ with all of this,’’ said the winningest coach in NCAA Division I basketball history. “It’s all very humbling.’’
Summitt was diagnosed last August with early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type and retired in April to serve as head coach emeritus of the Lady Vols.
Summitt also will serve as grand marshal for the Food City 250, issuing the command for drivers to start their engines.
“I’ll definitely speak up,’’ Summitt said with a wink.
Bayne, appearing at Summitt’s side throughout the ceremony and presentation, was clearly taken by her presence.
“Being from Knoxville, Tennessee, I’ve been a Pat Summitt and University of Tennessee fan all my life,’’ said the 2011 Daytona 500 winner. “In fact, the first time I raced at Bristol, I wore a UT cap around the track.
“I told Pat she’s welcome to get up on the pit box and keep my guys going during the race.’’
Preston Garland, a partner with YourRaceCar.com, said a portion of the proceeds raised from “We Back Pat” racing souvenir and photo sales, as well as corporate sponsorships, will go toward The Pat Summitt Foundation directed toward Alzheimer’s programs.
“We want to try to help Pat’s foundation get exposure outside of the collegiate market,’’ Garland said. “Obviously, NASCAR, with its corporate sponsorship presence, presents a great opportunity.’’
The joint venture also provides an opportunity for Bayne. The talented young driver is racing a limited schedule in Sprint Cup and Nationwide this season on account of limited sponsor resources at Roush Fenway Racing.
YourRaceCar.com came to Bayne’s rescue prior to the Nationwide race at Bristol on March 17, providing an innovative solution to raise the necessary sponsorship dollars for Bayne to race through a fan interactive program that’s also in place for the “We Back Pat” promotion.
The program allows for race fans to purchase spots on the car to put their pictures and/or names, as well as opportunities for corporate sponsorship advertisement placement.
Following the race, YourRaceCar.com will place the retired Roush Fenway Bristol race/show car up for auction and donate a portion of the proceeds to the Pat Summitt Foundation.
More details can be found at www.WeBackPatRacing.com.
As for the particulars of the upcoming Bristol race, Bayne said the actual Ford Mustang he’ll be driving at BMS won at Las Vegas earlier this season and was driven by fellow Roush driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“Of course that’s (Las Vegas) a 1.5-mile track so some adjustments will be made, but I know this is going to be a fast car,’’ Bayne said. “It’s one of our newest cars in the shop, so I’m very excited.
“Plus, Pat Summitt’s name is synonymous with victory, she’s a winner and a legend, so I believe that can only help us.’’
Bayne made the most of the opportunity the Knoxville founders of YourRaceCar.com gave him at BMS in the spring race, qualifying second on the high-banked, .533-mile oval and leading 64 laps before faulty pit strategy relegated him to an eighth-place finish.
“I’ve got the Indianapolis Cup race coming up, but Bristol is my next Nationwide race,’’ Bayne said. “So we’re really going to be focused on this Bristol race. Pat is not only a Tennessee legend, she’s a national icon.’’
Mike Griffith covers Tennessee athletics and the Olympics. Follow him at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32