The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend has long been a special day for racing enthusiasts around the world. Considered by many as the “Greatest Day in Motorsports,” it starts with the Grand Prix of Monaco, where Formula 1 drivers navigate through the streets of Monte Carlo. That’s followed by the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the day closes with the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Racing on Memorial Day weekend is nothing new for Danica Patrick as she’s done it at the professional level for many years. For seven years, Patrick competed in the 500-mile race at Indianapolis, and on Sunday Patrick will make her fifth start in the Coca-Cola 600.
While Sunday is a special day in the motorsports world, in Charlotte the focus will instead be on those service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in defending our country and our freedom. For the second consecutive year, the NASCAR community will come together to honor fallen U.S. Armed Forces members with “600 Miles of Remembrance” in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
As part of that tribute, this weekend the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is honoring Lance Corporal Benito Ramirez, who died May 21, 2006 in the Anbar Province of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ramirez’s name will be featured in place of Patrick’s on the windshield header of the team’s car.
Ramirez, a native of Edinburg, Texas, joined the Marines in December 2002. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, based at Camp Pendleton, California, and deployed with the Darkhorse battalion. After two tours in Iraq, the 21-year-old soldier volunteered for a third. During that deployment, he died from wounds sustained during combat operations. Ramirez has personal ties to the No. 10 team as he served in the same battalion as Jon Wesson, vice president of operations for Nature’s Bakery. In addition to featuring his name on the car, Ramirez’s parents Felipe and Maria are scheduled to attend Sunday’s race.
This Memorial Day weekend, the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet will also feature a special camouflage paint scheme in honor of the men and women who have died in military service for the United States.
Entering Sunday’s race, Patrick’s career-best finish in the Coca-Cola 600 was a 22nd-place result she earned in 2015. As they look to honor Ramirez, both Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team hope to significantly improve on that result when they return to the track this weekend.