Using its biggest race as a platform, NASCAR in conjunction with Michael Waltrip and Swan Racing has announced an initiative to raise awareness and contributions for the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
Waltrip will run a special paint scheme during the Daytona 500 and in the events leading up to the Great American Race. The two-time winner of the 500 will also carry the No. 26 in honor of the Dec. 14 tragedy where 20 children and six adults were killed by a lone gunman in Newtown, Conn.
"Driving the No. 26 Sandy Hook School Support Fund Toyota is like nothing I have ever been part of in my NASCAR career," Waltrip said. "It will be an emotional week knowing that we have the potential to do so much good for the Newtown community.
"I'm racing for a reason."
The news was announced Thursday during media day for the Daytona 500.
NASCAR chairman Brian France kicked started the efforts to raise money for the victims by contributing $50,000, a sum matched by The NASCAR Foundation.
France, along with Waltrip and other NASCAR officials, visited Newtown last week to display the car to the community during a private event.
"Being in Newtown last week and delivering a moment of happiness to that community was unlike anything I've ever experienced," said France. "Looking out at a room of smiling faces amidst the aftermath of a horrible tragedy was very powerful. It hit me that the NASCAR industry and our passionate fan base have an unbelievable opportunity to rally around this cause and make a huge difference for a community in need."
The car Waltrip will drive, along with the three cars he co-owns, will carry a decal that will encourage fans to donate $10 by texting ‘Newtown" to 80888.
Fans can also donate online by visiting newtown.uwwesternct.org.