Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and Ally today revealed a military-themed race car paint scheme for the #48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in tribute to Army Sgt. Richard Donlan, who died in combat during the Vietnam War.
The patriotic car is part of the NASCAR Salutes initiative to honor fallen soldiers during the Memorial Day weekend race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Johnson revealed the car during a military gratitude event at the Hendrick Motorsports headquarters as 50 volunteers from Ally, the USO and the #48 Ally Racing team made approximately 1,000 care packages for active service members. Sgt. Donlan’s nephew, Laine Donlan, who is an Ally employee and member of Ally’s veteran employee resource group, assisted Johnson in revealing the car and honoring his uncle.
“The NASCAR Salutes program is something I’ve been fortunate to have been a part of many times in my career,” Johnson said. “In Ally, I’m very proud to have a sponsor that’s supporting one of their own, and it’s an honor to have Sgt. Richard Donlan’s name on our car. It means so much to the families involved, and it’s very cool to make a personal connection with them. Having grandparents who served, I have so much respect and am thankful for our military, both past and present, and for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. It’s a very special weekend all around.”
Nicole Fitz, executive director of Human Resources at Ally, said, “Our volunteer effort today is part of Ally’s long-standing dedication to show service members how deeply we value them and to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms.” Fitz is a Navy veteran and chair of the Veteran Allys employee resource group, which provides support to veterans at Ally and within the community, while also encouraging non-veterans to support those who served. Employee resource groups at Ally help create a workplace that values and gives voice to employees’ many different perspectives.
The Veteran Allys group, with more 400 members nationwide, was instrumental in identifying a fallen soldier to be honored on Johnson’s #48 Ally Chevrolet as part of the “600 Miles of Remembrance” program during the May 26 NASCAR Cup Series race. Donlan’s name will grace the windshield of the race car that features a military-themed camouflage paint scheme in lieu of the Ally plum and grapefruit brand colors.
“This tribute is an incredible honor for our family, particularly for my dad, who lost his younger brother at such a young age,” said Laine Donlan, senior director in IT for Ally. “When I submitted his name to be mentioned alongside other fallen soldiers, I had no idea Uncle Rick would be memorialized on the front of a seven-time NASCAR champion’s car. It’s humbling to know his service and sacrifice will be known by so many.”
Fitz added: “Giving back is a core part of Ally’s culture and Jimmie shares these values to ‘Do it Right’ for fans and communities. It’s great that the Hendrick Motorsports team and several local dealer customers share our philosophy of giving back and stepped up to create these care packages and share some small comforts from home with our active service members.”
Several members of the Donlan family will be honored as special guests during the Memorial Day weekend race, including Rick’s brother Jay, a Navy veteran; Jay’s wife Mary, who served in Vietnam as an Army nurse; and Jay’s son Laine, who nominated his uncle for the NASCAR Salutes tribute, and his family.
As part of the Memorial Day weekend activities, Ally also is sponsoring a free concert May 23 headlined by country music singer-songwriter Corey Smith at the three-day Speed Street Festival in uptown Charlotte.