Even though Kansas native Clint Bowyer didn’t win last Sunday’s NASCAR race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, he had something in common with first-place finisher Kevin Harvick. Both drivers were in Fords sporting corn-themed paint schemes because sponsor Anheuser-Busch will donate a percentage of proceeds from Busch-Light beer to Farm Rescue – a nonprofit organization that provides critical material aid to family farms.
Harvick supported the farmers in Atlanta and, with support from Bowyer, Farm Relief has now expanded into Kansas, its seventh state.
Farm Rescue’s mission is to help farmers and ranchers who have experienced a major illness, injury or natural disaster by providing the necessary equipment and manpower to plant, hay or harvest their crop. Livestock feeding assistance is also available to ranchers. Farm Rescue helps farm and ranch families in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, Nebraska and now Kansas.
“We see that one of the biggest financial drains on a family is an unexpected medical injury or illness and, of course, a natural disaster,” the Farm Relief website states. “It is even more pronounced on a farm where a family’s livelihood depends on the ability to plant, harvest or provide for their herd. Farm Rescue gives families a chance to continue their livelihood by providing the necessary equipment and manpower (free of charge) to get the job done.”
Bowyer grew up in Emporia and after winning his first championship in Salina, he headed to Heartland Park Topeka, Thunder Hill Speedway, Lakeside Speedway and I-70 Speedway for more wins.
Now, with a car that’s motif represents his home state, Bowyer said he is proud of growing up in Kansas and proud of helping farmers.
“They’re the backbone of our country. Without them putting food on our tables, we’re dead in the water, so (I’m) very proud of the initiative and more importantly, having it on my car and representing the initiative is really, really cool,” Bowyer said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunday’s race was broadcast on FOX but happened without fans in the stands. This week, NASCAR will become the largest sport to allow fans to return, although numbers will be limited. NASCAR says all fans will be screened before entering, required to wear face coverings, mandated to social distance at 6 feet, and will not have access to the infield, among other revised operational protocols.
Black Lives Matter
Sunday’s race at Atlanta also saw drivers stop on the track during the pre-race routine for NASCAR President Steve Phelps to deliver a message: “The time has come to listen, to understand and to stand against racism.” There was a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd before the green flag was waved and the race got underway.
Current and retired drivers were featured in a video to send a message of unity. They vowed to learn, to educate and to push change over the unrest in our country. Driver Bubba Wallace wore an “I Can’t Breathe - Black Lives Matter” T-shirt under his fire suit.
Finally, this week, NASCAR announced it would ban Confederate flags at all events. Better (155 years) late than never; it was the right thing to do.
There are some who believe athletes should not be embroiled in politics or social issues, although supporting farmers has never been controversial. Coming together safely shouldn’t be controversial. Listening, learning and standing against racism shouldn’t be controversial either.