RICHMOND, Va., April 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ --When the 43 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers hit the track this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, they will all be racing to honor one man – Heath Calhoun. As the grand-prize winner of the Crown Royal® "Your Name Here" contest, Calhoun was awarded naming rights to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday, May 1. The race is officially titled "Crown Royal Presents The Heath Calhoun 400."
The Clarksville, Tenn, native was unveiled as the grand-prize winner earlier this year during a patriotic ceremony at Daytona International Speedway. This year marked the first that Crown Royal, a subsidiary of Diageo plc (NYSE: DEO), focused the annual promotion solely on military service members to honor their achievements. Calhoun and four other military members were chosen as the top finalists after nominations were received from their friends, family and fellow soldiers for their ability to demonstrate the core values of the military in performing a selfless act that made them a hero. Heath's winning nomination detailed his determination and ability to inspire others to live their lives to the fullest, despite their injuries.
"The last few months have been a whirlwind," said Calhoun. "Since being announced the Crown Royal winner, I have competed in the Paralympics, met President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, and will soon be living out any race fan's dream by having my own race. This has truly been an unbelievable experience. Thanks to Crown Royal, I will have the experience of a lifetime. I look forward to representing all the men and women who serve our country during the race weekend."
Calhoun, 30, retired from the US Army when he lost both of his legs in an explosion in Iraq. For his efforts on duty, he received a Purple Heart, as well as the George C. Lang Award for Courage. He works closely with the Wounded Warrior Project in an effort to help as many people as he can. Calhoun recently competed on the US Paralympics Team at the 2010 Paralympics Winter Games, where he scored an 8th-place finish in the Super-G and a 10th-place finish in the Men's Super Combined alpine skiing events. Calhoun was also selected by Team USA to serve as flag bearer for Opening Ceremonies. Growing up very close to Bristol Motor Speedway, Calhoun has always loved NASCAR and remembers listening to the races on the radio with his grandfather when he was young.
"We are extremely proud to have such a remarkable athlete and hero in Heath Calhoun representing Crown Royal," said Rob Mason, senior brand manager, Crown Royal. "In addition to his personal sacrifices for our country, Heath is very deserving of having his name in lights as he embodies the character and core values that we celebrate as a brand. We are confident that NASCAR fans at the track and at home watching the race will be taken aback by Heath's accomplishments and his drive to make a difference. We look forward to making Heath the king of the race and we hope to toast all the men and women that serve our country, in Victory Lane – responsibly."
Calhoun will receive the royal treatment throughout the weekend. His name will be incorporated into the race broadcast and has been included on all the race tickets and merchandise. Some of his duties include serving as Grand Marshal, participating in pace-car laps, watching the race from the No. 17 pit box and delivering the trophy – emblazoned with his name – to the race winner in Victory Lane. Calhoun will be joined by his wife Tiffany and several close friends and family members.
"Richmond International Raceway congratulates Heath and sincerely thanks him and all the members of our nation's armed forces to whom this race is dedicated," said Richmond International Raceway President Doug Fritz. "The partnership with Crown Royal and the 'Your Name Here' contest has been a huge success, and Heath is another great winner. We look forward to continuing this great tradition by having Heath join us for an exciting weekend at America's Premier Short Track."
Prior to the race at Richmond International Raceway, America's Premier Short Track, Crown Royal driver Matt Kenseth, along with Doug Fritz and Heath Calhoun, will participate in a private luncheon with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. The event will take place as a special tribute to Heath, his upcoming race, as well as his service to the country and ability to make a difference despite his injury.
"It has been an honor to meet Heath as well as all the other finalists that took part in this program," said Kenseth. "Crown Royal has given me and the team numerous opportunities to interact with race fans this season and it's been a blast. We look forward to this weekend's race activities and continuing our involvement with Crown Royal throughout the season to ensure adult race fans always drink responsibly."
Crown Royal continues to use its NASCAR-related sponsorships to remind adult fans to "Please Drink Responsibly." This includes activities to support the race at Richmond, as well as its signature "Safe Rides Home" designated driver initiatives and other programming designed to reinforce responsible drinking.
About Crown Royal
Crown Royal Canadian whisky is the number one selling Canadian whisky brand in the US by value and has a tradition as long and distinctive as its taste. Specially blended to commemorate a grand tour of Canada made by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 1939, Crown Royal Canadian whisky's smooth, elegant style reflects its aristocratic origins and is considered the epitome of Canadian whisky. The Crown Royal Company is a primary sponsor of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Ford Fusion driven by Matt Kenseth. For more information visit www.crownroyal.com.
Diageo (Dee-AH-Gee-O) is the world's leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, wines and beer categories. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff, J&B, Baileys, Cuervo, Tanqueray, Captain Morgan, Crown Royal, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards wines.
Diageo is a global company, trading in more than 180 countries around the world. The company is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (DEO) and the London Stock Exchange (DGE).
For more information about Diageo, its people, brands, and performance, visit us at Diageo.com. For our global resource that promotes responsible drinking through the sharing of best practice tools, information and initiatives, visit DRINKiQ.com.
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About Richmond International Raceway
Richmond International Raceway, known as America's Premier Short Track, offers great night racing action and a commitment to the fan experience. One of the most popular facilities among drivers and fans in all of motorsports, Richmond International Raceway annually hosts two NASCAR Doubleheader weekends featuring the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series under the lights on a 3/4-mile D-Shaped oval. The unique layout traditionally produces exciting side-by-side racing, yet drivers reach high enough speeds for a superspeedway feel. Combined with first-class amenities and a focus on the fans, guests at Richmond International Raceway can expect to experience what "Racing Perfection" truly is. For tickets to events at Richmond International Raceway, call 866-455-RACE or visit www.rir.com online.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR's largest team operating eight motorsports teams. Four in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; and four in the Nationwide Series with Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Colin Braun, and Paul Menard. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com. Become a fan of Roush Fenway Racing on Facebook by going to http://www.facebook.com/roushfenway. And for sponsorship inquiries please contact Robin Johnson at 704.720.4645.
Richmond Int. Raceway
CROWN ROYAL Blended Canadian Whisky. 40% Alc./Vol. ©2010 The Crown Royal Company, Norwalk, CT. PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY