Panther Racing goes Pink

Scroll below the Breast Cancer Awareness video for the full story.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISEOrzDroMs&feature=email]

Staff Report

Click HERE for News Anchor Katie Roach’s story of the tandem rides on WYMT-TV.

Click HERE for photos & video of the event on Kentucky National Guard’s Flickr page.

Pfc. Ashley Henry, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, steps out of her tandem ride in Panther Racing's #4 Tandem Indy Car at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. Sept. 30. (photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Panther Racing and driver JR Hildebrand are turning pink for the month of October to honor female Soldiers in the National Guard during the last two IZOD IndyCar Series races of the season. The team changed the livery of the team’s No. 4 National Guard entry to pink ACU or ‘Army Combat Uniform’ camouflage, and Hildebrand and his Panther teammates wore pink crew shirts and fire suits at the first of the season’s final two races at Kentucky Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in an effort to recognize female personnel in the Military.

“I don’t think a majority of the general public understand how large of a role females play in the military,” Panther Racing Managing Partner and CEO John Barnes said. “The National Guard is an unbelievably diverse group, and we can’t highlight the sacrifices everybody associated with the military makes for our freedoms enough. It’s our responsibility to honor everybody in the National Guard, but we wanted to take the last two races of this season to give special thanks to the women of our Armed Services.”

More than 30 Soldiers and Airmen got the chance to take a tandem ride in Panther Racing’s #4 Indycar at over 180 miles per hour at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., Friday, Sept. 28 before the official race kicked off.

Pfc. Ashley Henry, from the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, was selected by her superiors  because of her recent contributions to the unit. She was extremely excited for this opportunity.

See the video below for Henry’s reaction to the tandem ride.

Members of the Kentucky Air National Guard suit up for their tandem ride in Panther Racing's #4 Tandem Indy Car at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. Sept. 30. From left to right, Master Sgt. Dave Hewitt, Master Sgt. Tim Kenney, Tech. Sgt. Michael Piro and Master Sgt. Brian Henry. (photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

Women currently make up roughly 20% of the American military, and since the September 11th terrorist attacks, females are the largest growing demographic in the National Guard. Female Soldiers are now reaching increasingly higher rankings in today’s military and are an integral component of the country’s fighting force. During this last weekend’s event at Kentucky Speedway, Panther honored a female “Hometown Hero” who sat next to Hildebrand during the IndyCar Series autograph session, and was honored in front of the crowd on the pre-race stage prior to the event. The team also purchased a 30-second commercial that airs on the VERSUS broadcast to highlight its Hometown Hero.

Panther Racing's #4 Tandem Indy Car prepares for another lap around the track at 180 miles per hour at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. Sept. 30. (photo by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

“I’ve said it all year, but I’m in awe of the sacrifices that Soldiers in the National Guard make for our freedoms,” Hildebrand said. “And like John said, I don’t think a lot people realize how many female Soldiers are out there fighting for us as well. I’m not sure how good I’ll look in pink, but with this being Breast Cancer Awareness month and if this is our way of saying thanks and recognizing all the female Soldiers out there – then I’m stoked to be a part of it.”

Images of the pink camouflaged No. 4 National Guard entry will be posted on Panther’s website. The team is also selling a limited supply of pink camouflaged No. 4 t-shirts on the team’s online store (www.pantherracinggear.com) with profits being donated to the USO of Metropolitan Washington.

Pfc. Ashley Henry, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm4cMNnkApy]

See Pfc. Ashley Henry’s reaction right after she steps out of her tandem ride in Panther Racing’s #4 Tandem Indy Car at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky. Sept. 30. Henry is a member of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade and was nominated for this opportunity because of her recent contributions to the unit.

About kentuckyguard