The echoes of rain falling and thunder booming, and a haunting whisper reciting a long-familiar chorus in music lore – those elements made “Riders on the Storm” one of the most recognizable refrains and songs by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Doors.
The evocative refrain and chorus from the 1971 hit will surely come to mind this weekend when Ryan Newman hits the racetrack for Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with the No. 39 Code 3 Associates Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The organization’s logo and slogan, “Riders on the Storm Animal Rescue Team,” will be front and center on the hood of Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet.
Code 3 Associates, formed in 1985, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas. The Colorado-based organization is a national response team that, at the request of local government officials, provides animal rescue and recovery in times of disaster.
While “Riders on the Storm Animal Rescue Team” might evoke memories of classic rock tunes for the typical race fan, there’s also a good chance the Code 3 Associates logo will be a familiar sight to many at the racetrack and those watching on television.
When a devastating tornado struck nearby Joplin, Mo., just a few weeks before last year’s June race at Kansas, Code 3 Associates arrived shortly thereafter with its mobile command center known as BART (Big Animal Rescue Truck) and its responders assisted in the search and recovery of animal victims displaced by the tornado. Code 3 Associates remained in Joplin before being called to Pierre, N.D., where severe flooding from the Missouri River necessitated the specialty work of the organization for nearly two months.
The partnership with SHR and Newman is a natural fit as animal rescue and welfare is a passion for both Newman and his wife Krissie. In fact, that’s the mission of the Ryan Newman Foundation. In addition to educating and encouraging people to spay or neuter their pets, the Ryan Newman Foundation also encourages people to rescue and adopt dogs and cats from animal shelters.
After a disappointing outing last weekend at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, where Newman finished 20th and lost ground in his quest to be the “best of the rest” – or 13th in points, the highest of any non-Chase driver, Newman wants to get back on the right track.
Kansas hasn’t been the strongest of locales for Newman in recent years. In his past 10 starts, he has just one top-10 finish at the 1.5-mile oval. But despite the recent hiccups at the track, Newman does know what it takes to finish up front at Kansas as he has a 2003 win there and runner-up finishes in 2001 and 2002. His only other top-10 finish came in 2010 with the No. 39 team.
New pavement at the 1.5-mile oval will present a new challenge this weekend for Newman and his team, as well as the rest of the Sprint Cup garage. With this fresh start at the Kansas City track, it is truly anyone’s race to win. And with the added significance of Kansas being Newman’s 400th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, he wants more than ever to find his way to victory lane this weekend.
While Newman is focused on getting back to top form – he has nine top-10 finishes in his last 14 races – equally important this weekend is the task of raising awareness for animal rescue and the work of Code 3 Associates.
Pulling into victory lane in a downpour of confetti and champagne would be the perfect storm for the No. 39 SHR team, as well as for the dedicated people of Code 3 Associates – the “Riders on the Storm Animal Rescue Team” – who are in a race of their own every day on behalf of animals everywhere.