Last weekend’s AdvoCare 500 wasn’t just another race for Ryan Newman and the Quicken Loans Racing team. While Newman – driver of the No. 39 Chevrolet – finished fifth, his finish only capped off what was already a special Veterans Day weekend.
If you haven’t heard, Newman’s car looked a little different than normal. To honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, the car was decked out with a camo paint scheme while the base of the car was wrapped in the pictures of service men and women who are clients of Quicken Loans. On the back of the car was the saying “Home of the Free BECAUSE of the Brave.”
In my opinion, it was the perfect way to show our appreciation to all veterans. Don’t take it from me, though. Meet William Gimmler, a member of the Navy who served from 1976-80. The Aviation Storekeeper served all over the world, including the Philippines and Vietnam. Gimmler was one of over 300 veterans who had their picture on Newman’s car, an honor Gimmler didn’t take lightly.
“Everybody in my generation was a veteran,” Gimmler said. “I think it’s great to have my picture on the car. There’s only one reason it’s there – it’s because I was lucky enough to return home. For me, this is more about the guys that didn’t make it back. It’s not about us; it’s about all the others that aren’t here with us today.”
Gimmler received an email from Quicken Loans a few months ago asking if he’d be interested in having his picture placed on the car. Not knowing if anything would come of it, Gimmler sent in a photo of himself wearing his Navy hat that was taken when he was 19. He was unsure if his picture was selected for the car. However, as part of a garage tour Quicken Loans team members gave the veterans and their families, Gimmler was able to find his picture near the driver side door.
“I didn’t think I’d ever find it because there were so many pictures on the car,” Gimmler said. “I was very excited to find it amongst the group. It’s a pride thing. It means a lot to me.”
Growing up, Gimmler’s family participated in stock car racing. He recalled all the work his father and uncle put into the car.
“They would spend four or five nights a week out in the garage working on the car,” Gimmler said. “The weekends were all about racing. That’s when all the hard work paid off. We spent a lot of time at the track.”
While Gimmler doesn’t follow NASCAR too closely, he was still excited to watch the AdvoCare 500 in person.
“I’m excited to see what it’s like in person,” he said. “I want to get out and walk around the track and take everything in. It’s going to be a great experience.”
In all, it was a weekend Gimmler won’t soon forget.
“I’m very honored to be able to pay tribute to all the veterans out there,” Gimmler said. “It’s a pretty unique way to show support and I’m very happy to be a part of it.”