Governor proclaims ‘NASCAR Week’ in Kentucky [The Arena]

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Gov. Steve Beshear went up to the new track at Sparta, Ky., today—on the eve of the Quaker State 400—and touted the arrival of the NASCAR race at the Kentucky Speedway and Kentucky’s proud connections to auto racing.

“This Sprint Cup race will draw more than 100,000 guests, millions of dollars in economic impact for Kentucky and a national television audience,” Gov. Beshear said. “I am proud to have helped bring this race and NASCAR to Kentucky, with the help of incentives I proposed, pushed for and passed.  This has been a great week for NASCAR fans, and we all look forward to the July 9 race.”

Gov. Beshear issued a proclamation declaring the week of July 4-10 as NASCAR Week in Kentucky. In the proclamation, he thanks the countless individuals who worked hard to bring the long-awaited race to Kentucky.

“We have encouraged Kentuckians to celebrate their love for NASCAR the entire week leading up to the Sprint Cup race tomorrow,” he said.

While at the speedway, Gov. Beshear also noted a bit of Kentucky history related to NASCAR. Michael Waltrip is scheduled to race on Saturday, and will be the only Kentucky driver in the Quaker State 400. He’ll drive a tribute car to honor his brother Darrell, a NASCAR legend who began racing go-karts as a child in Owensboro. Darrell was selected this year for the NASCAR Hall of Fame with 84 NASCAR wins during his career.

“It’s fitting that Darrell Waltrip was selected for the NASCAR Hall of Fame just a few weeks before the inaugural NASCAR event in Kentucky,” Gov. Beshear said. “The Waltrips have been an important name in racing, and we’re proud that they are fellow Kentuckians.”

The Governor presented the proclamation to the Waltrip Brothers during his visit to the racetrack today.

Darrell Waltrip, who retired from racing in 2000 and is a television commentator on racing, will be on the track Saturday to drive a celebratory lap. He will drive a pink Mustang, courtesy of John Paul Miller Ford in Lexington, which is part of First Lady Jane Beshear’s “Horsepower Tour” that promotes breast cancer awareness.

“It is an extreme honor to be involved with the First Lady and share her passion for the Horses and Hope program. Awareness is a key factor, and I'm sure the pink Mustang will bring a lot of awareness to the fans attending the inaugural Sprint Cup race at the Speedway,” Darrell Waltrip said. “We are running a race of our own – the race to provide treatment and education – and I'm excited about being on the track, the right track for a great cause.”

The “Horsepower Tour” is an offshoot of the Horses and Hope program – a joint effort of the First Lady’s Office and the Kentucky Cancer Program – that works with the state’s equine industry to provide breast cancer education, screening and treatment referral. The organization also hosts special events in collaboration with equestrian organizations to honor breast cancer survivors and to share information.

“This is another great opportunity to spread the message about the importance of screening for breast cancer,” said Mrs. Beshear. “Thanks to NASCAR, the Kentucky Speedway, Darrell Waltrip and everyone else for helping us to promote this important health initiative.”

Since it was founded in 2008, Horses and Hope has educated more than 393,000 race track and horse show fans and more than 6,000 equine employees. The program has screened more than 350 workers and detected breast cancer in two individuals, both of whom have received treatment.

For more information about Horses and Hope, visit http://www.horsesandhope.org.

WHAS 11’s Brooke Katz reports: