Crown Royal already knows a thing or two about heroes. For two years now, they’ve backed one of NASCAR’s most accomplished drivers, Matt Kenseth, bringing fans to their feet each weekend while fighting for a shot at victory lane.
But with their Sprint Cup sponsorship of Richmond International Raceway, this brand is a guaranteed winner long before Kenseth takes the green Saturday night (April 30). Through a special naming promotion, they take pride in joining with NASCAR to honor a different type of fight: heroes whose sacrifice allows everyone the freedom to cheer in the first place.
Such an honor comes through Crown Royal’s “Your Name Here” competition, rewarding a special winner from the second the track gates open. The contest, in place since 2007 was already special enough; one lucky fan would get their name on all official race logos, get recognized on TV as part of the official title and even participate in the trophy presentation to the race winner. Over the course of the weekend, each honoree gets VIP treatment for themselves and a guest, taking part in all pre-race festivities and spending the weekend treated like “Royal”ty.
But last year, the liquor brand hit a home run by turning the honor towards our armed services. To become eligible, friends and family of the servicemen send in written nominations, testimonials that demonstrate someone’s ability to perform a selfless act that made them a hero. The top-five nominees, ones that exemplify the core values of our military are then put on NASCAR.com where thousands of fans vote for a winner.
This year’s grand prize recipient, announced at Daytona in February puts the spotlight on the military not once, but twice with a special story surrounding twin brothers. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant (SSgt.) Matthew Hansen will represent the pair this weekend, part of the “Crown Royal Presents The Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400.” Matt, nominated by his Godmother will be honored for a long list of military accomplishments, including three deployments as part of Operation Iraqi freedom and his continued dedication despite an injury that keeps him back in the states – at least for now.
As for his brother? He’ll be watching, too… with pride from the heavens above.
“To have thousands of fans vote for me to receive this unbelievable experience leaves me nearly speechless,” said Hansen, excited to share his sibling’s special life with others. “I am so grateful for this opportunity to honor my brother Daniel and share his incredible story with millions of NASCAR fans. I came into this world with Daniel, joined the Marines with him and never expected to be standing here today without him. My race is his race.”
The Hansens’ story of sacrifice starts in 2002, both men joining the Marines weeks apart but excelling in different types of service. While Matt worked in logistics, Daniel’s path included guarding President George W. Bush at Camp David, spending time there in 2004 before moving on to Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer while in Iraq. The Marines then deployed him in Afghanistan; it was there Daniel fell victim to a roadside bomb in Farah province that ended his life on Feb. 14, 2009. For years of exemplary service, Daniel was promoted posthumously to the level of Staff Sergeant.
Some would have crumbled in the face of tough circumstances; Matthew simply rose above it. Continuing to not only serve but excel within the military, he’s seeking yet another deployment to Iraq after healing while coming here to remind us – through the generosity of Crown Royal – there’s so much more to life than cars going ‘round in circles every weekend.
“I can speak for the entire Crown Royal family when I say we are incredibly grateful for the dedication and courage displayed by all service members, and are so appreciative to those who nominated the thousands of military members for our ‘Your Name Here’ program,” said Yvonne Briese, Crown Royal Brand Director. “We look forward to not only treating Matthew to a royal weekend, but also to help share his brother’s story and the story of all fallen soldiers.”
So now, the fun begins. With the Hansens proudly displayed on thousands of official race merchandise and logos, Matthew will spend the weekend as Richmond’s Grand Marshal. He’ll ride in the pace car during the warmup laps, watch the race from Kenseth’s pit box and even hang out with country star Rodney Atkins, whose partnership with the Crown Royal promotion includes an hour-long concert before the race. Matthew’s friends and family will join him on this journey to honor a job well done… for two.
“I have a feeling this weekend is going to be full of incredible moments,” Hansen said. “From experiencing the rush of the race to hanging out with stars like Matt Kenseth and Rodney Atkins, I’m really looking forward to getting to Richmond. I wish Daniel could share this with me, but he will definitely be in my heart the entire time.”
For NASCAR fans around the country, Saturday night Daniel will forever become a part of their racing soul. Every time they look up stats from that weekend, talking shop about what’s bound to be a nail-biting finish the name of that race will inevitably come up. Sure, Crown Royal will be a part of it but they’re happy to take a back seat to the words that follow. After all, they know a thing or two about a nation’s heroes… and how to make them special for a weekend they’ll never forget.
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About the author
Tony Lumbis has headed the Marketing Department for Frontstretch since 2008. Responsible for managing our advertising portfolio, he deals with our clients directly, closing deals while helping promote the site’s continued growth both inside and outside the racing community through social media and traditional outlets. Tony is based outside Philadelphia.
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