Chairman's Newsletter: Special Edition - Enjoy Illinois 300 inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Race
WWT Family & Friends,
This past weekend history was made, and my personal dream was fulfilled, as the Enjoy Illinois 300 inaugural NASCAR Cup Series Race pulled into World Wide Technology Raceway. It was an exciting and extraordinary time for our community, as tens of thousands of fans from 49 states and 6 countries poured into the Bi-State area.
As I have previously shared, my father's passion for racing is what piqued my interest in the sport as a young boy. My son's love for racing also began as boy. As a lot of us can attest, our love of cars and racing started when we were young!
I am very humbled and honored to partner with our very good friend, Curtis Francois, owner of World Wide Technology Raceway, in fulfilling the dream of NASCAR fans across the Midwest by bringing the Enjoy Illinois 300 NASCAR Cup Series Race to our home track! Even more thrilling was the opportunity I was given to be the Grand Marshall of this amazing race. I also had the pleasure of a trip around the oval with Curtis in the Pace Car, while Dave II made the trip in the lead truck! However, the most sacred moment for me was the privilege of praying with the drivers before the race!! Praise God for the things He has done!!
Under Curtis' leadership, the WWT Raceway team took an extraordinary vision and transformed the raceway into both a world class entertainment venue and a symbol of diversity, equity, and inclusion for everyone in our community and the entire world of racing!
"It was a dream come true to see the WWT Raceway stands full of fans on race day! We truly are a region that comes together through our love of sports," said Curtis. "With that, my hope is to deliver an impact far beyond any one race, as our track is located within communities that will benefit tremendously from economic opportunity delivered through the success of the raceway – ultimately ushering in a transformational change in diversity, equity, and inclusion in regions across this nation and around the globe." Read more about Curtis' vision here.
My hat is off to our very good friend, Curtis, and his remarkable team!
We had great media coverage leading up to the weekend that provided excellent exposure for our region. From the Fanfest at Ballpark Village to the Hauler Parade to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota 200 , fans from all over felt the excitement build to the main event on Sunday!. From the roar of the jets during the flyover to the exciting finish when Joey Logano took the checkered flag, it was an amazing race! I am pleased to share some of the highlights with you here.
We were incredibly blessed to have The King, Richard Petty, and his team join us for this inaugural race! Mr. Petty was the first driver to win the Cup Series championship seven times while also winning a record 200 races during his career. What an honor to host him!
Also present with us was the family of the late Wendell Scott, one of the first Black drivers in NASCAR and the first Black driver to win a race in the Grand National Series, NASCAR's highest level. We were thrilled to have Wendell's son, Frank, and his wife, Mable, and grandson, Warrick and his wife, Chinique join us for this historic event.
Over 350 WWT employees and their families took advantage of the opportunity to purchase discounted tickets to attend the race and visit the WWT Hospitality Tent. Over 800 guests took a break from the heat to enjoy a bite to eat and a cool drink, as well as festivities for the kids and special giveaway items. A special thanks to all of you who purchased tickets!
To all of the WWT employees involved, as well as the WWT leadership team, I cannot thank you enough for the planning and preparation to make this weekend possible. Without you and all of your hard work and dedication, the tremendous success of this NASCAR weekend would not have been possible.
I also want to thank all of the customers and partners who came into town to attend the race. It was my privilege to host a very special dinner and jazz concert for our VIP guests on Saturday evening at The Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz. We were entertained by comedian Joe Torry and enjoyed outstanding music from Brian Owens, Denise Thimes and legendary jazz artist Wynton Marsalis.
Speaking of music, the NASCAR experience included the Confluence Music Festival, a coming together of 30 musical acts from different genres of music. We saw performances by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Bebe Winans, Kennedy Holmes, Joe Dirt and the Dirty Boys, Malena Smith, Nelly, Cole Swindell, Jimmie Allen, Kameron Marlowe and a host of other bands. The weekend was topped off by the Old Dominion concert after the race on Sunday. There was truly something for everyone when it came to music!
The Confluence Music Festival was more than a musical festival. It represented inclusion, reflecting the rich mix of people from all parts of our community and an audience that is the future of NASCAR.
The spirit of inclusion and innovation persisted throughout race weekend. It was showcased through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) hands-on activities that were aimed at inspiring the next generation of diverse STEM talent.
STEM Lane is where kids and families experienced fun, hands-on STEM-related activities and exhibits. WWT hosted a booth on STEM Lane that featured Augmented Reality technology called RaceAR, which is a Metaverse-inspired augmented reality fan experience that our engineers demonstrated throughout the weekend.
WWT had over 50 volunteers who shared their time and talent to support programs like the esport tournament and the NASCAR Foundation's Speediatrics, a program that promotes healthy and active living for kids.
Inclusion was also showcased on the track! Bubba Wallace, previously sponsored by WWT, was on hand to drive in the Cup Race and also joined Dave Steward II and Curtis Francois to promote diversity in motorsports. They made a special presentation of the Raceway Gives Ignite Series youth sponsorship.
Additionally, WWT sponsored Rajah Caruth, who made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut this past Saturday. Caruth said. "To drive the Confluence Music Festival Chevrolet Silverado and represent the Steward family and World Wide Technology is truly an honor. I'm grateful to represent them on and off the racetrack. This is the big break I've been striving for and I'm going to make it count." Boy, did Raj make it count! Not only on the track but with WWT family and friends.
And last, but certainly not least, how special it was to see the Detroit Red Tail Ford Mustang educating the community on legendary Tuskegee Airmen and their history! It was made possible by the Henderson Aviation Resources – Hugh J White Tuskegee Airmen Chapter of St. Louis.
We have received so many wonderful phone calls and emails from customers, partners, family, and friends singing the praises of NASCAR weekend – not to mention the incredible accolades from the local and national media. As we look back over this amazing weekend of sports, activities, and music, we cannot help but look forward to what next year will bring!!
I pray God continues to abundantly and richly bless all of you and your families.