While deployed in Iraq, Gunnery Sergeant Samuel Deeds, a diehard NASCAR fan, dreamed of working in the sport after completing his service. In 2005, those dreams took a back seat when Deeds placed himself in harm's way to save the lives of his fellow Marines. This summer Deeds will travel to one of the country's most historic tracks, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), not as a fan or employee, but as the race namesake.
Today in his hometown of Erlanger, Ky., Deeds was recognized as the winner of Crown Royal's "Your Hero's Name Here" program, which awards one deserving individual naming rights to the July 28thNASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at IMS. Surrounded by friends, family and Marines, Deeds cemented his place in the NASCAR record books by laying the final brick, engraved with the official race logo, in a ceremonial "Yard of Bricks" at Flagship Park in Erlanger.
While deployed in Iraq, Deeds came across an improvised explosive device (IED) while setting up a vehicle checkpoint. Upon seeing fellow Marines approaching, he exposed himself to the device, risking his own life to save others. He was severely injured and underwent more than 30 surgeries and procedures following the blast. Three years later, while still recovering, Deeds' heroic instincts took charge once again when he saved the lives of three individuals caught in a rip tide off the coast of North Carolina.
In addition to Deeds' friends and family, special representatives from Crown Royal, Big Machine Label Group (BMLG), and IMS attended the ceremony and spoke of Deeds' many accomplishments. NASCAR driver Kurt Busch surprised Deeds during the ceremony, appearing on behalf of the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF), and country music star Justin Moore debuted a special song titled "Heroes," which was penned specifically for the "Your Hero's Name Here" program. Consumers 21 and over can visit CrownHeroesSong.com to download "Heroes" for free. For every download redeemed between now and the Samuel Deeds 400 on July 28th, Crown Royal will donate one dollar to AFF.
"I was so fortunate to be part of this program last summer," said Moore. "That experience and the brave men and women I met along the way served as inspiration for this new song. The opportunity to debut 'Heroes' in front of a true hero like Samuel, his friends, family and community, is incredibly special to me as well as all of the folks at BMLG."
This will mark the seventh time Crown Royal has awarded race naming rights to an adult fan. After receiving thousands of entries during the nomination period, five heroes were chosen as finalists and adult fans had the opportunity to cast their votes for the person they felt was most deserving of the honor. As the winner of the program, Deeds will participate in a VIP race weekend experience, riding in the pre-race pace car, delivering the trophy bearing his name to the race winner in Victory Lane, and participating in the "kissing the bricks" ceremony following the race.
"I've been a NASCAR fan for as long as I can remember, so the reality of having my name on a track with such rich history and meaning is beyond words," said Deeds. "I am so grateful to all of those who took the time to hear my story and vote for me. I can't wait to attend the race and dedicate that special weekend to all fellow servicemen and women who put their lives on the line every day."
Deeds, now retired from his service in the Marines, is a husband and father of two boys. His wife, April, nominated him for the program for his unwavering commitment to his country.
"We could not be more honored to announce Gunnery Sergeant Samuel Deeds as the 2013 'Your Hero's Name Here' winner," said Abby Wise, Brand Director for Crown Royal. "His sacrifice and continued acts of heroism serve as an inspiration to all of us at Crown Royal and we are proud to provide him with the ultimate race experience at the Brickyard next month."
The official race title, Crown Royal Presents the Samuel Deeds 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com, will be incorporated into race memorabilia as well as the winner's trophy. Various events and celebrations will take place leading up to and throughout race weekend to honor Deeds, during which Crown Royal would like to remind adult consumers to please drink responsibly.
"It is our privilege to participate in this program with Crown Royal for the second year at IMS," said Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation COO Doug Boles. "We've been introduced to so many deserving American heroes, and we look forward to rolling out the red carpet for Samuel and all other heroes in attendance at this year's race."
Through a partnership with Crown Royal and IMS, country music artists from Big Machine Label Group including Justin Moore, Cadillac Three, Cassadee Pope and Dustin Lynch, will perform special concerts throughout the race weekend.
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