When Green Beret John Wayne Walding attends his first NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July, he’ll see a familiar name plastered around the historic racetrack – his own. Walding was announced the winner of Crown Royal’s annual “Your Hero’s Name Here” program, which awards naming rights to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at IMS to a deserving American hero, during last night’s live broadcast of the CMT Music Awards. As the winner, Walding’s name will be incorporated into the official race title, the Crown Royal Presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com.
Walding, of Little Elm, Texas, is a highly decorated Army veteran who served for 12 years, completing tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. While overseas in 2008, Walding was involved in a firefight during a mission to capture a high value target, during which he lost the lower part of his right leg.
After recovering from his injury, Walding was the first amputee to graduate the Special Forces Sniper School. He completed the Army 10 miler on foot and the 2009 Boston Marathon utilizing a hand cycle, within a year of the accident. Among Walding’s many awards and badges are the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantry Badge. Walding was nominated for the program by his brother and lives in Little Elm with his wife Amy and their four children. He is the founder of Five Toes Custom, which employs wounded veterans in an effort to provide support and direction within their lives.
“The fact that Crown Royal cares enough to say ‘thank you’ for what I’ve done is a true validation for my sacrifice,” said Walding following the unveil event. “The magnitude of those two words goes above and beyond.”
On hand to take part in the program’s winner reveal event for the third year in a row was country music star and reigning ACM New Artist of the Year Justin Moore. Moore presented Walding with a custom-made Gibson guitar bearing the official race logo incorporating Walding’s name and thanked him for his service during the award show broadcast.
“To be able to be involved in this program’s winner reveal event for the third year in a row is really special to me,” said Moore. “We’ve had the opportunity to meet so many amazing heroes over the years and are looking forward to honoring John Wayne at the Brickyard this summer.”
Walding was joined in Nashville by the other four program finalists, Tara Hulett of Albany, N.Y.; James Bailey of Pamplin, Va.; Bryce Boyer of Wanship, Utah; and Tyler Whisenhunt of Gentry, Ark. The five finalists were selected from thousands of nominations submitted to CrownRoyalHeroes.com, and consumers 21+ voted for the hero they thought was most deserving of the honor.
“The sacrifices that have been made by John Wayne Walding and countless heroes across the country serve as an inspiration to all of us at Crown Royal,” said Abby Wise, Brand Director for Crown Royal. “We’re excited to provide Walding a small token of our gratitude by renaming the NASCAR race at the famed Brickyard in his honor.”
As part of the grand-prize package, Walding will take part in a VIP at-track experience that will include garage tours, pace car rides and concerts by Big Machine Label Group artists. He’ll cap off the weekend by delivering the trophy bearing his name to the race winner in Victory Lane.
“We’re proud to participate in Crown Royal ‘Your Hero’s Name Here’ program for the third consecutive year,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “It’s been an honor to welcome so many great American heroes to our events and we’re anxious to host John Wayne for a great weekend of racing.”
While raising a glass to the heroes in your life, Crown Royal reminds consumers to please drink responsibly.
About Crown Royal
Crown Royal Canadian whisky is the number one selling Canadian whisky brand in the US by value and has a tradition as long and distinctive as its taste. Specially blended to commemorate a grand tour of Canada made by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain in 1939, Crown Royal Canadian whisky’s smooth, elegant style reflects its aristocratic origins and is considered the epitome of Canadian whisky. For more information visit www.crownroyal.com. Crown Royal encourages all consumers to please drink responsibly.
Diageo (Dee-AH-Gee-O) is the world’s leading premium drinks business with an outstanding collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine. These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB, Windsor, Buchanan’s and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Tanqueray, Guinness, Beaulieu Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards Wines.
Diageo is a global company, with its products sold in more than 180 countries around the world. The company is listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (DEO) and the London Stock Exchange (DGE). For more information about Diageo, its people, brands, and performance, visit us at Diageo.com. For our global resource that promotes responsible drinking through the sharing of best practice tools, information and initiatives, visit DRINKiQ.com.
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About Big Machine Label Group
At the helm of the independent Big Machine Label Group is industry veteran Scott Borchetta, who serves as President and CEO. The conglomerate encompasses Big Machine Records (founded in 2005), The Valory Music Co. (founded in 2007), Republic Nashville (a partnership with Republic Records founded in 2009 with Jimmy Harnen serving as President) and Dot Records (a joint venture with Republic Records founded in 2014 under the leadership of General Manager Chris Stacey). The Big Machine Label Group’s current artist roster includes Multi-Platinum superstars Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Reba; Platinum sensations The Band Perry and Florida Georgia Line; Legendary group The Mavericks; Gold-selling artists Brantley Gilbert and Justin Moore; Chart-topping act Eli Young Band as well as Hot newcomers Thomas Rhett, Cassadee Pope, RaeLynn, Laura Bell Bundy, The Cadillac Three and Danielle Bradbery, in addition to a Country tribute to well-known rockers Motley Crue and soundtracks for ABC’s hit drama “NASHVILLE.” BMLG artists have received multiple GRAMMY, CMA, ACM, American Music Awards, CMT Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, MTV Video Music Award and People’s Choice Award accolades as well as Brit Award and JUNO Award nominations. In 2012 BMLG rejuvenated its publishing arm with Big Machine Music, which has created a joint venture with Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald’s Prescription Songs, allowing the two companies to co-publish songwriters and artists whose unique talents translate across genres. Big Machine was also the first-ever label to align with terrestrial radio for performance royalty rights. The label group has also forayed into the racing world, sponsoring the Brickyard 400 as well as back-to-back Indy500 drivers.
About Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the worldwide leader in motorsports entertainment since it opened in 1909. The facility has hosted the Indianapolis 500, the world’s largest single-day annual sporting event, since 1911 and also is the site of the Crown Royal Presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 at the Brickyard and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. The NASCAR Nationwide Series and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship also will race for the third consecutive year at IMS in 2014. IMS is the world’s largest spectator sporting facility and is the only venue to stage annual races in the Verizon IndyCar Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and MotoGP.