Race Weekend Central

Comcast Releases ‘The Aviators’ Ad Campaign During Dover Cup Race, Announces $1 Million Commitment to Military Serving Nonprofits

Navy Lt. Jim Lloyd (call sign Zeke) had just returned home from a trip when his neighbor – also an actor – presented him with an opportunity that he couldn’t resist. 

Lloyd, who served 10-and-a-half months in Vietnam more than 50 years ago, sent an application in for an ad that Comcast was running called “The Aviators.” He got an introductory email the following day to set up an interview. 

Lloyd grew up in a military family, but he wanted to find his way to the military his own way. He had four months left to graduate when he found out that the Navy was looking for pilots. The one caveat: he had never even flown in an airplane before. 

“That was the first time the Navy saved my life,” Lloyd explained, as he surveyed Dover Motor Speedway. When the Navy flew me in for my physical from college that was the first time that I was ever in an airplane – any plane.”

The advantage Lloyd said that he had was that the Navy didn’t have to un-train him with how it flies planes. The Navy wanted to challenge its members.

As soon as you get comfortable, they take it away by giving you a harder plane to fly in the syllabus,” he said. “I was open to that, because I was like a lot of guys, I didn’t have any flight experience.” 

Last Friday, April 26, Lloyd, along with former Navy Cdr. Jack Gillett (call sign Razor), former Navy Lt. Bill Moir (call sign Offender) – all of whom flew together as members of the Gunslingers Squadron on the USS Saratoga – and Maj. (Ret.) Elester Latham (call sign Hollywood), a former Air Force pilot, were honored at the Dover Air Force Base.

Waiting for them was Bubba Wallace, who was set to drive a specially branded Xfinity car at Dover in a partnership with the United States Air Force. The No. 23 Toyota paint scheme was inspired by The Flying Tigers that flew during WWII from 1941-1942. Their design also inspired the A-10 Warthog paint scheme. All four Vietnam veterans’ names were on the decklid of Wallace’s car. The four veterans were also the grand marshals for the Wurth 400. 

Seeing the paint scheme up close was special for Lloyd, who was attending his first NASCAR weekend. 

“It’s completely unbelievable,” he said. “Bubba’s car is beautiful. Just ecstatic that our names are on the car. It’s hard to find words to describe how wonderful this whole thing has been from the very beginning since last October until present day.”

During the race, the “Aviators” ad, which was directed by Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, debuted. It was the culmination of six months of preparation and getting the ad to look like a short movie.

“[Bigelow’s] emphasis is to make it as natural as possible,” Lloyd said. “It’s beautiful. It will get your attention. It’s one of those things that you don’t have to be in aviation to appreciate.”

After scoring a stage point in the second stage, Wallace ended up with a wrecked racecar on lap 330 in a multi-car pileup. It was his second consecutive DNF. 

But the weekend was a win for Wallace before it started. He was able to see his favorite fighter jet up close in the A-10 Warthog. He was also able to see the Goliath aircraft with the C-5. 

“To be able to say that your partner is Xfinity, who I got to know really well by joining the Xfinity Series years ago and still have a great relationship with and to see them do more with us and continue to do more for the sport is cool,” Wallace said. “But then to have the Air Force come over and join 23XI shows their commitment and loyalty. 

“I think the collaboration between the two is really special for both involved and we get to kick back and enjoy the benefits of it.”

The Dover race weekend served as the ideal time for the paint scheme and reaffirm Xfinity’s commitment to the military. Earlier this week, Xfinity rolled out a new military offer and NBC Universal discounts in more than $700 in savings. Included are a $180 Visa gift card for new and existing military customers that can be applied to their choice of Xfinity services (equivalent to $15 a month per year); one free Xfinity Mobile line for a year (a $480 value – requires subscription to Xfinity internet service); and an automatic upgrade to become an Xfinity Diamond Rewards member (which is normally reserved for customers who have been with Xfinity for 14-plus years) as a part of the Xfinity Rewards program. 

Throughout 2024, Comcast will continue supporting several military-serving nonprofits to advance digital equity, with grants totaling north of $1 million. The investments, which will focus on digital skill-building programs, entrepreneurship and providing computers and free WiFi connectivity, are part of Project UP, the company’s $1 billion comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help build a future of unlimited possibilities. Some of these organizations include NPower, Our Community Salutes, Wounded Warrior Project, Hesperus and United Service Organizations. 

“For more than 60 years, Comcast has had a special relationship with the military community,” Mona Dexter, vp of Comcast military and veterans affairs, said. “We’re proud to reaffirm that commitment again today. From celebrating connectivity and service to investing in the community, we’re proud to support our nation’s veterans, service members and their families.”

Comcast and Xfinity have been recognized as one of the leading employers in the country for veterans and military spouses. In 2022, Military Times recognized Comcast NBCUniversal as the nation’s No. 1 telecommunications company for veterans. 

About the author

Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

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