As NASCAR returns to the racetrack for the first time in more than two months, the sport will honor frontline healthcare workers in The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 17 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
The special NASCAR Cup Series race entitlement at Darlington Raceway follows the launch of The Real Heroes Project, a collaborative initiative by 14 sports leagues including NASCAR to recognize and pay tribute to medical professionals serving on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.
“As the coronavirus challenges our country in unprecedented ways, the frontline healthcare workers – the nurses, paramedics, emergency physicians and many others – continue to inspire us with their strength and bravery in caring for their fellow Americans,” said Jill Gregory, NASCAR executive vice president and chief marketing and content officer. “These men and women are the real heroes and the NASCAR industry is incredibly proud to honor their selflessness and service as we return to racing on Sunday.”
Through a collaboration with NASCAR, FOX Sports and the race teams, each driver’s name will be replaced above the driver-side window with the name of an individual healthcare worker currently battling the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, The Real Heroes Project logo will be displayed on the side panel of each racecar.
The healthcare workers honored on the cars, selected in part by local FOX affiliates from cities across the country, will serve as grand marshals for The Real Heroes 400 and appear in an on-air mosaic to simultaneously give the command for drivers to start their engines for the race.
“Real heroes” from the state of South Carolina include healthcare workers from St. Francis Downtown hospital in Greenville S.C., and McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence, S.C., located just south of Darlington Raceway.
The sports leagues behind the Real Heroes Project launched a public service announcement on May 6 that featured some of the biggest names in sports including a pair of NASCAR Cup Series champions in Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick. The PSA features more than 30 athletes sharing personal thank-you messages with their healthcare heroes and replacing the names on their own jerseys and uniforms with the names of individual medical professionals.
The campaign encourages sports fans to pay tribute to the frontline healthcare workers in their lives on social media using #TheRealHeroes.
As NASCAR resumes the 2020 race season on Sunday, The Real Heroes 400 will be the first of three national series races at Darlington Raceway in the span of four days – all taking place without fans in attendance. The NASCAR Xfinity Series will return to action on Tuesday, May 19 (8 p.m. ET on FS1), followed by the second NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington on Wednesday, May 20 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1).