Brad Keselowski enjoys giving back, especially to those who have served in the military for the United States of America. This weekend he and his Checkered Flag Foundation are taking it to a new level with a special Tribute 2 Veterans paint scheme and custom-painted helmet.
Originally, starting the Checkered Flag Foundation was a no-brainer for Keselowski. As a privileged person who can live out his childhood dream, he needed another purpose. Thus, the Checkered Flag Foundation was born.
“When I think of those that make our sport possible and that I appreciate, the military and our first responders stand out the most,” Keselowski recently told NASCAR.com. “I wanted to do something to help those that are willing to make that tremendous sacrifice.”
Over the years, Keselowski’s foundation has done tremendous work for the community, raising over $3.8 million to support heroes. Some of the activities have included building a Fisher House in his home state of Michigan, and help fund the Town of Mooresville’s Officer Jordan H. Sheldon Memorial Dog Park which is scheduled to open over the next two months. Now, throughout the month of April, the name of a child whose parent(s) are in the military will ride along the No. 2 car above the passenger side window to raise awareness for Month of the Military Child. The list goes on and on.
That continues this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Celebrating the foundation’s 10th anniversary, Keselowski’s No. 2 Autotrader Ford will feature more than 200 names on it, spanning from military veterans to active military, military families and their caregivers. The reason is to acknowledge the ongoing commitment to the well being of veterans and those around them.
Similar to years past at Atlanta, Autotrader has allowed Keselowski to use its primary scheme to help promote his foundation, but more importantly, current and past military members.
“There are very few sponsors in NASCAR that have embraced my foundation, or foundations in general like Autotrader has,” Keselowski said. “They’re such a great company for giving back to their team members. They have a number of their team members that are on the car as well, which is really cool.”
For this year’s Tribute 2 Veterans paint scheme, people submitted their hero’s name via the foundation’s social channels. Also, for the first time in eight years, Keselowski will be wearing a custom-painted helmet, which will be auctioned off beginning Sunday, March 21 at 9 a.m. ET on his foundation’s social media pages and the NASCAR Foundation’s pages. The auction will close on March 29.
To wear a painted helmet is different for Keselowski, but an idea through a combination of people: the foundation and the designer at Off Axis Paint, Greg Stumpff. It’s a white layout with the American flag and Ford logo plastered on it. On the side, there’s a logo of CFF and the rear features Keselowski doing a burnout with his signature American flag out the window.
Plain and simple, Keselowski was happy with the way the helmet turned out.
“I usually don’t ever sell anything helmet related, but my wife (Paige) asked very nicely and I said, ‘Yes, we’ll raise proceeds with the helmet for the foundation after the race,’” Keselowski said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Keselowski noted he typically wears an unpainted helmet because it sends a message to his team: he cares solely about winning and not the aesthetics of looking glamorous.
When it comes race time, don’t be surprised to see Keselowski running towards the front. Not only is he a two-time Atlanta winner, but he’s on a streak of six consecutive top-10 finishes at the track, tied with Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. for the longest active streak.
“It’s been a good track for us for sure,” he said. “It’s a track that we’ve just taken to, and I’m looking for big things this weekend.”
Since first running the special Autotrader paint scheme to honor the military, Keselowski was victorious in 2019 at Atlanta, leading 33 laps.
“[That] was a huge win,” Keselowski added. “It’s such a tough racetrack. It’s so fast and loses all the grip in the tires and becomes just a complete cardio and arm workout session, trying to keep the car manhandled on the bottom or top of the racetrack as it’s sideways.
“I really like the challenge that track represents, and to win there means a lot to me personally.”