NASCAR’s youngest racing team is headed to one of the sports’ most famous race tracks, the Daytona International Speedway, thanks to the support of an all-veteran group of sponsors.
Driver Colin Garrett, 19, and owner Sam Hunt, 26, formed the nonprofit team, “Our American Dream Team” which takes on no corporate sponsors and instead crowdfunded the cost to race at Daytona. In the place of corporate sponsors, the team’s car will instead promote veteran-owned businesses.
Garrett announced the team had met its initial $200,000 fundraising goal to cover the costs associated with racing at Daytona.
The team will compete in the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 on Feb. 15, ahead of the sport’s main Daytona 500 race on Feb. 16.
Along with meeting their fundraising goal, the team also announced it had raised extra money, which it planned to use to cover a veteran’s stem cell treatment.
“If we can help raise enough through crowdfunding to replace corporate sponsorship dollars, the military family has our very own NASCAR team! Move over big guys, the US military community is coming in,” the team said in its crowdfunding campaign announcement.
The team also joined with non-profit partners including Racing For Heroes, The Rosie Network and the Veteran Business Project. The racing team hopes to promote those non-profits, which are focused on issues affecting veterans.
Racing For Heroes is focused on supporting veterans through motorsports activities and promoting health and mental wellness. The Rosie Network is focused on helping military spouses develop their own businesses and the Veteran Business Project similarly promotes veteran business opportunities. The “Our American Dream Team” is focused on promoting those veteran goals through its racing.
Veteran and military spouse owned businesses were also given the opportunity to join the team’s marketing campaign for as little as $10, according to the team’s website. For their donations, those small businesses were given a badge indicating them as a “Veteran Business Advocate of Our American Dream Team.”
“Traditional racing sponsors have deep pockets. Our pockets aren’t deep but our hearts and family are huge,” the team said. “We’re relying on that family for a successful crowdfunding campaign.”
The fundraising effort was a personal effort for the team. Garrett has two brothers who are both active-duty members of the U.S. Army.
During his 2019 racing season, Garrett’s family donated an estimated $750,000 in promotional services to Racing For Heroes and the team decided to expand its promotional effort for 2020.
Hunt, the team’s owner, also made some sacrifices to launch his team. During the 2018 season, Hunt said he slept in a van behind his team’s shop in order to make ends meet during his first year as a team owner. In 2019 he started Sam Hunt Racing, which became the vehicle for his partnership with Garrett and their latest racing venture.
“Throughout their time together, Colin has driven his heart out, running with only half the funding, dated equipment, and limited technology,” the team said. “Meanwhile, Sam has squeezed the blood out of every penny just to get their car on the track.”
This article has been updated to clarify the Daytona race in which the team will compete.