In my short time working at Quicken Loans, I’ve learned that the company does some pretty cool things. If you’re unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, take a look at the weekend the Quicken Loans You’re The Boss Sweepstakes winner experienced in Charlotte. If that doesn’t impress you, how do you feel about FREE go-kart racing with Ryan Newman? Not awe-inspiring enough for you? No problem, our special Veterans Day paint scheme should do the trick.
To date, I’d say getting the chance to interact with veterans during the AdvoCare 500 in Phoenix has been one of my most memorable experiences in my six months at QL. Just when I thought it didn’t get any better than that, I heard about Jim Thompson’s story.
A couple weeks after financing through Quicken Loans, a QL official contacted Thompson and asked him to send a photo of himself in his military uniform. The 71 year old agreed to send in a picture that was taken in 1963, the only one he has.
As part of the special paint scheme to honor veterans, Quicken Loans used Thompson’s photograph in a way he would have never imagined: by placing it on Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet during the AdvoCare 500 on November 11. Thompson, along with his wife Kay, decided to make a trip out of it and travel to Phoenix International Raceway for the race.
At the track, Thompson wanted to get as close as he could to Newman’s U.S. Army car to find his photo. After coaxing his way through security guard after security guard, at last he found himself up close and personal. After making numerous trips around the car, Thompson finally found his picture located behind the driver’s side rear wheel.
How cool is that? Thompson was one of only about 300 veterans whose photos were used on the car. To get Thompson’s take on the whole event, here’s the full story.
Thompson’s story seems like one of those things you read about, but never experience in person, right? Well, for me, it really happened. Meet William Gimmler, who served in the Navy from 1976–80. Like Thompson, Gimmler received an email from a Quicken Loans official asking for a photo of himself wearing his Navy hat. Unsure if anything would come about, Gimmler sent in a picture taken when he was 19.
Fast forward to race day in Phoenix. Looking for veterans to talk to for a story, I ran into Gimmler. At the time, Gimmler had no idea if his picture had been selected to use on the car.
“It’d be pretty neat to see my picture on a car like that,” Gimmler said at the time. “Hopefully I get the chance to get close to the car so I can look for my picture.”
After finishing my interview with Gimmler, I wished him luck in finding his picture. He had to leave to go take part in a garage tour that was given by Quicken Loans team members. About an hour later, Gimmler returned to the hospitality tent. Any guesses on his first words to me?
“I found my picture on the car!” Gimmler said. “I can’t believe it was actually used. I was very excited to find it amongst the group. It’s a pride thing. It means a lot to me.”
Like Thompson, Gimmler had to sweet-talk his way through security. After being turned away initially, Gimmler’s charm paid off.
“I had to beg them to let me in,” Gimmler said. “They kept telling me I couldn’t go past a certain point. After I explained to them why it was so important for me to see the car, they finally let me go through.”
There you have it; these types of things DO happen. I was there to experience it first-hand. Call it lucky. Call it fluky. Call it whatever you want. I was there and it made for a memorable weekend before the race had even started.
These two instances got me thinking about some things. If there were approximately 300 photos of veterans on Newman’s No. 39 car that day, how many managed to get close enough to the car to find their own photo? Any of you out there? Let us know in the comments section below!