Charlotte Motor Speedway, in partnership with NASCAR, Rescue Ranchand the Arbor Day Foundation, held a ceremonial tree planting on Thursday at the Camping World Racing Resort to honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country.
Three trees were planted in honor of the 51 fallen service members acknowledged during the NASCAR Salutes 600 Miles of Remembrance campaign. The remaining 48 trees will be planted this fall.
One of the trees planted was in honor of Navy SARK Ryan Lohrey, who is being remembered on the No. 31 car of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Newman. Lohrey’s mother and father were on hand to help plant the tree that honors their son’s memory.
“We couldn’t be more excited to take part in our first memorial tree garden being planted today at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” said Catherine Kummer, the senior director of green innovation for NASCAR. “Today is a reflection on how our industry comes together to impact our local communities, but also to take time to honor and remember those who lost their lives protecting us.”
Newman, who is part owner of Rescue Ranch, will carry Ryan Lohrey’s name on his car in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.
“This is different for me. We are planting a tree to give new life when Ryan Lohrey gave his life for us to do what we do,” said Newman. “I’m honored to be able to stand up here for all the people who have contributed to NASCAR Green to do an event like this, to plant a tree and celebrate life. Thank you for this opportunity. I love trees and I do plant a lot of trees and enjoy the beauty of them. It’s pretty special for me to be a part of this. It’s a connection and it’s a partnership. Just like we have sponsors, it’s just a partnership between us and service members, for branches of the military and for their families. It’s a story where at some point their kids and grandkids get older they can bring them back and show them the tree that was planted in their father’s memory because of the things that he did. That’s special. That’s what creates the family awareness that is NASCAR and why I’m proud to be a NASCAR driver.”
Greg Walter, the executive vice president of Charlotte Motor Speedway, was also on hand for the ceremony and took part in the tree planting.
“When NASCAR and the Arbor Day Foundation asked us to plant these trees and have a memorial garden, it wasn’t a question of ‘if,’ It was a question of ‘when’ and ‘how,’” Walter said. “We are truly honored to be able to do this in memory of the fallen men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defending our freedoms. Memorial Day weekend is a special weekend. And we take the tributes we hold here very dear, very sacred. We have a huge responsibility to honor those.”
Tickets, pre-race pit passes and camping packages for the Coca-Cola 600 available by visiting online. Kids 13 and under get in for just $10. Race tickets are also available at the gates or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).
CMS PR (HHP/Alan Marler photo)