Race fans honor Boston bombing victims
LOUDON -- At $20 apiece, the "B Strong" T-shirts being sold Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway might have seemed a bit pricey to some.
But NASCAR fans were donning them left and right.
"Of course," said Donna Beychuck of Saratoga, N.Y., having just purchased a shirt on her way to afternoon races at the track.
"I want to support those people who had to go through all that, and this is the first chance I've had, personally, to do anything."
"Twenty dollars isn't much to give, considering," said Bill English of Fayetteville, N.C.The shirts were available throughout the Camping World RV Sales 301 weekend, with part of the proceeds going to One Fund Boston, supporting victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
In addition, more than free 2,250 tickets were given to first responders in the Newtown, Conn., school shootings last December, to first responders to the Boston tragedy and to families of the victims, said Gavin Faretra of NHMS.
On April 15, authorities say Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, detonated two homemade bombs near the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people and injuring about 265 others.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned last week. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed during a shootout after the attack.
Track officials weren't sure how many shirts had been brought to the track for the weekend - "thousands, at least," Faretra said - because the shirts were donated by sponsors.
One sponsor, Hendrick Motorsports of Charlotte, N.C., made a $5,000 donation to help the speedway host first responders, making it in memory of Sean Collier, the MIT police officer who authorities say was shot and killed April 18 by one of the bombers.
Collier's brother, Andrew, is a machinist in the Hendrick Motorsports engine department, which fields the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars driven by Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne. Each of the four cars will carry a special decal in memory of Sean Collier during the Camping World RV Sales 301 on Sunday.
"The Collier family and everyone affected by what happened in Boston continue to be in our thoughts," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports.
"It means a lot for New Hampshire Motor Speedway to honor first responders," said Andrew Collier. "My family continues to be blown away by how truly amazing the NASCAR community is. This is another example of that."
Several Nashua police officers who were sent to Boston to help track down the bombing suspects were also at the races this weekend, thanks to the speedway.
"We're very pleased that (the speedway) has chosen to honor anyone who had to respond to what happened in Boston that day, which was horrifying," said Capt. Scott Hammond, a Boston Marathon bombings responder himself.