WASHINGTON — The annual White House Easter Egg Roll has been rolling strong for 134 years. This year’s version had an element of rolling thunder to it.
The No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a special appearance at The Ellipse in the nation’s capital Monday, helping to kick off a patriotic initiative “NASCAR Unites — An American Salute.” The six-week program is designed to unify the NASCAR industry and fans in celebrating America and supporting military families.
Adding a unique twist to Monday’s celebration was the sight of an 800-horsepower race car adjacent to the National Mall, greeting the estimated 36,000 attendees at the White House event. The car debuted a spirited red, white and blue paint scheme, designed to rally support for the initiative.
Three NASCAR executives and their families took part in the festivities, which included concerts, colorful eggs, face-painting and a story-telling session with the First Family. On hand were: Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development; Kim Brink, managing director of brand, consumer and series marketing; and Sandy Marshall, executive director of the NASCAR Foundation.
“I cannot think of a better way to launch the program than having Dale Jr.’s National Guard car at the White House Easter Egg Roll event,” Marshall said. “It was great to see the families so excited to see a NASCAR Sprint Cup car near the White House lawn.”
Besides Earnhardt’s star-spangled No. 88, other racers in all three national series will sport distinctly American paint schemes and trim packages. Defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, current Cup points leader Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Danica Patrick are some of the drivers already on board.
The initiative will be at its most visible at races around two traditional national holidays — the May 27 Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the July 7 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, right after Independence Day. A total of nine tracks will be involved during the six-week span.
The significance of the announcement and the Charlotte track’s long-running history of celebrating Memorial Day wasn’t lost on Charlotte mayor Anthony Foxx, who attended his first egg roll with his family.
“NASCAR’s support of military families is legendary,” Foxx said. “There couldn’t be a better time than Memorial Day to recognize our veterans and to do it in such a way that NASCAR is doing it this year. It’s so appropriate given the solemnity of the day and that we are so grateful for the veterans who have given their lives and their time to our country.”