Nearly 600 law enforcement officers, family members and supporters came to Dover, DE, from as far away as Louisiana to take part in the first ever Law Enforcement Appreciation Day at the Dover International Speedway during the Autism Speaks 400, presented by Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips & Cheese NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, May 31. The event was organized by Dover International Speedway as a way to raise public awareness of law enforcement service and sacrifice and to raise funds for the NLEOMF.
The day started with track side tours of the "Monster Mile." Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Scotchlite Ford, and Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, stopped by the NLEOMF hospitality tent. Both drivers expressed their gratitude for the sacrifices law enforcement officers make each day to keep our country safe.
During the pre-race ceremonies NASCAR fans viewed a public service announcement from driver Jeff Gordon of the No. 24 of DuPont Chevrolet. He asked everyone in attendance to help honor members of the law enforcement community by making a contribution to the Memorial Fund through their cell phones, by texting the word "HERO" to 20222. This was followed by a moment of silence to honor the 18,661 law enforcement officers nationwide who have died in the line of duty throughout history.
Bagpipers Patrick O'Rourke (Town of Derry, Hershey, PA, Police), Mike McCann (DC Metro Police Pipe Band), Justin Schauer (Greater Richmond Pipes and Drums) and Jim Livingstone (Henrico, VA, Police) played a stirring rendition of "Amazing Grace," while Delaware State Police and Dover Police Department cruisers drove around the track. Mark Rossi, Vice President of Marketing for Dover Motorsports, presented the NLEOMF with a check for $12,500 based on proceeds from a special promotion offered to members of the law enforcement community for the race.
Special thanks go out to the New York State FOP Lodge 911 for providing a 1967 Mustang cop car in the pre-race parade lap, as well as Dover Motorsports, the three NASCAR drivers and their sponsors, and all of the law enforcement officers, family members and supporters who came out for a day of honor and remembrance ... and exciting NASCAR racing. The folks at Dover are already talking about next year's event!