CONCORD, N.C. – For the seventh consecutive year, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson joined executives from BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina and Charlotte Motor Speedway in painting the iconic speedway’s pit wall pink on Wednesday.
Due to restrictions on public gatherings during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event was conducted virtually, with dozens of BlueCross BlueShield employees and breast cancer survivors tuning in via Zoom to hear messages of encouragement and motivation from Johnson, a longtime BlueCross BlueShield ambassador.
“At the end of the day, we’re trying to raise awareness for this cause,” Johnson said. “I feel like NASCAR is a great place to do that. This race track, Charlotte Motor Speedway, has done a phenomenal job over the years… When you have a cancer that, with early detection is beatable, helping the general public understand that, you’ve got a recipe for success.
“Certainly missed all the fans and wished that the energy was here with all the survivors, but to have the virtual board and know that they were there and watching was really special.”
Johnson was joined at the event by BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina Chief Operating Officer Gerald Petkau, who shared his own story of his battle with breast cancer and what he learned through his journey about the importance of community during challenging times.
“It’s an outstanding opportunity for coming together as a group,” Petkau said. “It’s so moving to be able to hear their stories… That community, to be able to share and lean on each other, just like breast cancer patients do with their families, I think doing that as a survivor group is really important and beneficial.”
Following brief comments, Johnson and Petkau put the finishing touches on painting the speedway’s pit road wall pink as an outward show of support that will remain on display at Charlotte Motor Speedway throughout the upcoming NASCAR race weekend, which includes the Drive for the Cure 250 presented by BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina on Oct. 10, and the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 on Oct. 11.
During the ROVAL race and throughout the month of October, Johnson will wear pink driving gloves as part of the effort to raise awareness of breast cancer early detection and treatment. His car will also feature a BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina logo on the rear quarter panel.
In addition, the event provided participants the first look at the pink Toyota Camry pace car for the Drive for the Cure 250. The car features more than 1,000 digital signatures of breast cancer survivors collected virtually by BlueCross NC and digitally printed on the car.
Reagan Greene Pruitt, the vice president of marketing and community engagement for BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina, said the event has gained momentum every year, even despite the challenges presented this year as a result of the pandemic.
“We’ve worked hard in our partnership with Charlotte Motor Speedway to pivot and change in this COVID environment,” Pruitt said. “We talked about potentially not coming out here in our seventh year to celebrate breast cancer survivors, to use the NASCAR platform to increase breast cancer awareness and prevention, but we’re here. And while it looks a little different, the impact is the same; the purpose is the same.”
Tickets are just $50 for the racing double-header on Saturday, Oct. 10, featuring the Drive for the Cure 250 presented by BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series’ MOTUL 100% Synthetic Grand Prix. Kids 13 and under get in free. For details or to purchase, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or call 800-455-FANS (3267).