NASCAR race car honors 9/11 terror victims

The NASCAR racecar custom-designed to commemorate Sept. 11 The NASCAR racecar custom-designed to commemorate Sept. 11 is unveiled Monday, Aug. 31, 2009 near the World Trade Center site in New York's lower Manhattan. Driver Benny Gordon and North South Motorsports will race the car on Sept. 11 at the Richmond International Speedway in Virginia to commemorate 9/11. Photo Credit: AP Photo

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With the throttle gunned and the exhaust pipes roaring, a NASCAR race car custom-painted in tribute of the 2001 terror attack victims was unveiled Monday in Manhattan near Ground Zero.

The car - a $100,000 Ford Fusion bearing the inscription "Always Remember" and a 9/11 logo for the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum - is competing in a Sept. 11 race at Virginia's Richmond International Raceway.

NASCAR driver Benny Gordon, who lined up corporate sponsors for the custom paint job, is racing the No. 72 car.

"It will be an honor to race a car in honor of the attack victims," said Gordon, co-owner of the North South Motorsports team based in Dubois, Pa. "I hope we have a good run."

Gordon hopes NASCAR's popularity and the themed paint job will draw more support for the planned $610-million memorial and museum.

Joe Daniels, president of the memorial and museum, said he is grateful to have Gordon's support.

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"This car presents a tremendous opportunity to raise awareness about the national 9/11 memorial," he said.

Two Ford Fusions - a lead racer and a backup - will carry the same paint job, said Frank Nickens, a spokesman for Gordon.

The backup car was shown Monday, and the hood of the car was signed by first-responders, who attended the unveiling. Work will begin soon on the lead car, which will be used in the Sept. 11 race.

Typically, custom-painting of sponsor-driven designs and bright colors on stock cars runs about $2,000 per vehicle. The car dedicated to 9/11 is hand-painted, however, and the work for the lead car and backup vehicle will cost about $6,000 each, Nickens said.

The 9/11 car's color scheme is black, blue and white. The logo of the memorial and museum is on the hood, sides, bumpers and trunk. From the front tires to the doors are red and white stripes with reflective stars on the hood to resemble a flag.

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In association with the Sept. 11 NASCAR race, the foundation that will operate the memorial, and museum is launching the "text to remember" program. The program is designed to help raise funds and awareness for the memorial, which has a planned opening date of 2011.

By texting "WTC" to the number 30644, supporters can add their names to an honor roll at the 9/11 memorial's Web site and have the option to donate $5.

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