Gilliland to Honor Heroes of 9/11 with No. 34(3) Paint Scheme
Driver Joins Lionel NASCAR Collectables to Present Check to Sister of Fallen Firefighter and Quadruple-Amputee War Veterans
Statesville, N.C. (September 7, 2011) - Front Row Motorsports will honor the heroes of September 11, 2001, with a special paint scheme for Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The design of David Gilliland's No. 34 Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation Ford will pay tribute to the victims of the attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, and will have a ghosted "3" next to the No. 34 on the door to represent the 343 firefighters who died in the attack.
Stephen Siller was a New York firefighter who ran from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the World Trade Center towers in full gear to help his fellow firefighters. He died in the tower collapse. The foundation established in his memory raises funds to build homes for surviving quadriplegic servicemen returning from combat.
At a Friday press conference at the raceway, Gilliland will join Lionel NASCAR® Collectables in presenting a check raised from die-cast sales to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Mary Siller Scullin, sister of Stephen Siller, and two wounded servicemen who will benefit from the funding, will be present to accept the check. Siller Scullin will also present Gilliland with a piece of the World Trade Center debris for the No. 34 team to guard in its pit box during Saturday night's race. The tribute will have a personal connection for the No. 34 team's crew chief, Peter Sospenzo, who is a Brooklyn, N.Y., native.
Several drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have patriotic paint schemes during the September 10 race, but Gilliland will be the only driver to completely dedicate his car to the foundation. For hi-res images and more information about the die-cast replicas of each "Honoring Our Heroes" car, visit www.rccamembers.com/911story.
Comments from the driver of the No. 34 Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation Ford, David Gilliland:
"Ten years ago, I remember hearing the news on September 11th and just being devastated, and it just kept getting worse and worse. Just following the story and keeping up with everything that was going on, just made you feel sick that happened to us in America. To be running the Tunnel to Towers car at Richmond is such a special honor. It just brings back a lot of those memories and makes you think how much things have changed since, even in our day-to-day lives with activities like getting on an airplane and the security precautions we have to go through. It also makes you have an even greater appreciation for our military and for our firefighters and police officers. These people risk their lives for us every day. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a tragedy to be reminded of that and to see how dangerous their jobs really are.
"It's a huge honor to have Steven Siller's Foundation on our car. I think the car looks awesome and I can't wait to meet all of the folks from the foundation. We met a few of them earlier this year at Charlotte. And we saw video interviews with some of the veterans who will benefit from the money raised, but this weekend at Richmond we're actually going to meet some of them because they will be at the race. We're really proud to carry their message on our car and be a part of raising awareness for the foundation.
"Having a piece of the World Trade Center presented to me is a special honor, too. I know my crew chief, Peter Sospenzo, who is from New York, and the team will be really proud to have it with them on the pit box. Everyone races to win every week, or at least for a good finish, but this gives us a little something extra to race for."
Comments from the crew chief of the No. 34 Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation Ford and Brooklyn, N.Y., native, Peter Sospenzo:
"Obviously, being from Brooklyn, it means a lot to have this paint scheme on our car on the 10-year anniversary of '9/11.' Being born and raised in New York, there's a big personal connection for me, being part of the team paying tribute this weekend. People who have never lived in New York or visited New York really have no idea what it's all about. So, even just seeing the images on TV didn't give you a real sense of how it affected the city. It changed our way of looking at everything. Running this paint scheme is a good thing that we can offer as a team. If we can raise awareness for the cause and help somebody out, then we're glad to do that and I'm proud to be a part of it.