Race fans and television viewers will see the name of Sgt. Bryan Brewster at the top of the No. 55 Toyota’s windshield as part of Michael Waltrip Racing and NASCAR’s 600 Miles of Remembrance honoring fallen service members.
The 24-year-old Brewster along with nine other soldiers died on May 5, 2006 in a crash of a CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter along the Pakistan border —five children lost their fathers that day.
Brewster graduated from Fontana (Calif.) High School and enlisted in the Army when he was 18, ascending to the rank of sergeant in only three years. Thirty of his helicopter mechanics volunteered to transfer with Brewster when he moved from the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, Ky., to Fort Drum, N.Y. Brewster celebrated his 21st birthday in Iraq and 22nd Afghanistan.
Bryan’s father Louis Brewster is a familiar face in the NASCAR garage. The elder Brewster is the longtime motorsports reporter and sports columnist for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group. Louis and wife Linda created the Bryan Brewster Foundation with the motto “Excellence through Leadership.”’ The foundation delivered 3,000 books to families of military personnel so that soldiers can read to their children, even while deployed. Since the military drawdown from Afghanistan, the foundation has also offered financial assistance for veterans at Chaffey College (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) through a scholarship fund.
“There’s nothing in the world that makes me more proud than to do something for the men and women of our military, especially those who have given their lives,” said driver David Ragan.
“This weekend is the greatest weekend of the year for racing but I hope by putting Bryan’s name on our car everyone will remember that a lot of people sacrificed their lives for our freedom. On behalf of myself, MWR, Aaron’s, Toyota, NASCAR and all Americans I want to thank Bryan Brewster and his family along with all the other soldiers and their families.”
DAVID RAGAN ON THE COCA-COLA 6OO: “It’s the longest race of the year, but I don’t do anything special ahead of time for it. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good workout regimen throughout the season. I feel like I am in good shape. It is important to mentally set yourself up to be as strong and competitive for the final third of the race. Even with the car, I want it handling the best at the end.”RAGAN ON CREW CHIEF BILLY SCOTT AND THE NO. 55 TEAM: I didn't know Billy at all two weeks ago and I’ve gotten to know all the guys on the 55 a little since then. We’ve gone to dinner and even played basketball. In this world that we live in- one that is so engineer driven- Billy is the perfect crew chief with his background. He’s a very good leader and seems to have everyone’s confidence. Our goals are pretty simple. The way the system works now if you win a race you are in the Chase. That’s our goal. We feel very confident we can do that. We know we can get in on points but winning a race is the priority.”