Panther's Driver Trio Honors Holiday Weekend with Camo Firesuits Team Drivers Meira, Sherman and Battistini Celebrate July Fourth in Camouflage INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 1, 2008) -- Panther Racing's driver lineup is helping celebrate the ...
Panther's Driver Trio Honors Holiday Weekend with Camo Firesuits
Team Drivers Meira, Sherman and Battistini Celebrate July Fourth in Camouflage
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 1, 2008) -- Panther Racing's driver lineup is helping celebrate the upcoming Fourth of July weekend at Watkins Glen with an entirely new look. With actual ACU nomex uniform fabric donated by the U.S. Army National Guard, Panther drivers Vitor Meira, Dillon Battistini and Brent Sherman will all wear Delphi National Guard camouflage firesuits for this weekend's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races.
Battistini, the current Indy Lights points leader, will also have his No. 15 car painted in the red, white and blue National Guard Delphi livery this weekend, just like his teammates.
Additional Notes from Panther, include:
Honored Local Guardsmen SSG Weidlich Puts Real "Hero" in Hero Card
At every race this season, Panther Racing is putting a real "hero" on their Hero Cards (driver autograph cards) in an effort to honor a local member of the Army National Guard. In each race market, the local division of the National Guard selects a "hero" to represent the National Guard in each state. The hero has his photo and biography printed on the back of each driver autograph card and sits next to Meira at the driver autograph sessions, signing his side of the card along with Panther's veteran driver.
SSG Joseph Weidlich, an Iraq war veteran, transferred to the NY Army National Guard in 2005, and is currently an Active Guard and Reserve soldier serving as the unit Supply Sergeant. His military career started in 1989 as a Marine and he served in Iraq in 2004 with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion and earned both his Bachelors and Masters Degree in Biology from the University of Central Florida.
Local 53rd Troop Command Honored with Decal
During the Watkins Glen race, Panther will be honoring the 53rd Troop Command, the administrative headquarters of the New York Army National Guard. A decal of the 53rd Troop Command insignia will be placed on the nose of Meira's No. 4 Delphi National Guard Dallara and the No. 15 and No. 16 National Guard Delphi Indy Lights machines of Battistini and Sherman for the weekend.
Meira, Panther on a Mission ....
Panther has been busy since the Army National Guard signed a primary sponsor this season. Team officials and driver Vitor Meira have been around the world visiting some of the Guard's most prominent sites, and the team has also met with many current -- and injured -- soldiers.
* In April, Meira visited Indiana National Guard base Camp Atterbury, where he met with soldiers and was able to "play" with many wartime simulators, automatic weapons and training tools. Meira and his team were escorted to and from the event via Black Hawk helicopter.
* Two weeks later, during an off Monday in May, the team traveled to Washington DC to visit the National Guard Museum, Arlington National Cemetery and had a private meeting in the Pentagon with National Guard LTG Clyde Vaughn and LTG Steven Blum.
* Two days before the IndyCar Series event at Texas Motor Speedway, Meira and Panther team owner John Barnes spent the entire day at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas -- meeting with injured soldiers.
* The week of the Richmond event, Meira and team owner John Barnes were honored at a special ceremony at the Readiness Center in Washington, DC, where a display case with Meira's firesuit and helmet will be unveiled and put on display at the center.
Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:
"This is a big weekend for us for a lot of reasons. Obviously, we want to have a good weekend on the racetrack, but this is also a special time for the National Guard with the Fourth of July coming this Friday. I'm honored by the support I have received from them this season, and the camouflage firesuit that OMP made is awesome. We've done well at Watkins before. I remember leading here last year until we had a fuel pressure problem, and this is a place where I always enjoy racing. We feel this weekend we're going to get back on track."
Dillon Battistini, No. 15 AlexP Indy Lights:
"I am looking forward to a road track, but it will be hard for me to match the success that I have had on ovals. We missed the test there last week, so I will be learning the track and qualifying at the same time. I'll have (Panther teammate) Brent (Sherman) talk me through the layout of the track. Hopefully the car will be good right away because there isn't much time between practice and qualifying. I am excited to be able to represent the National Guard for this race. It is a significant weekend do be doing it, and I hope to make them proud."
Brent Sherman, No. 16 National Guard Delphi Indy Lights:
"The St. Pete street course could have gone a little better for us earlier in the year, but that was a new course for me. I have run many laps in multiple cars at Watkins Glen. We didn't get a chance to test for this race, so that may put us behind the curve. I have about fifty friends and family members coming to watch, so I am going to do my best to make them and the National Guard proud. It is a big weekend for me, being former military, driving the National Guard car and this weekend being the 4th of July, we are expecting big things."