BOSTON (AP) — The New Hampshire Motor Speedway will honor and welcome first responders from the Boston Marathon bombings and the Newtown school shootings at the July 14 New Hampshire 301.
The announcement at a "Champions Event" luncheon Thursday at a Boston bar next to Fenway Park was made by the track's general manager, Jerry Gappens.
"We're going to honor first responders from throughout New England," Gappens said at the event, which featured NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson and retired stars from the four local pro sports teams. "If you think about the swift and capable response that they brought to us in Boston that day, and they answer the call every day, they really go the extra mile.
"And our race in July is 301. And the reason that it's not a 300 is because we talk about people going the extra mile, and there's no better illustration of that than what they do."
Gappens — who took a cue from Charlotte Motor Speedway, which honors military personnel — said the track has joined forces with corporate sponsors to share the expense of the reserved seating. And he also unveiled a T-shirt that will be sold, with proceeds going to the One Fund in Boston.
"So far, we're up to almost 2,000 tickets to hand out to first responders throughout our great region here," he said. "They'll be able to come out and enjoy the race and that program will run right up until race weekend where we can get as many of them in as we can."
Joining Johnson, who won the Sprint Cup from 2006-10 were local champions JoJo White (Celtics, 1974 and 1976), Tim Wakefield (Red Sox, 2004, 2007), Joe Andruzzi (Patriots, 2002, 2004 and 2005) and Johnny Bucyk (Bruins, 1970 and 1972 as a player, and 2011 as part of the staff).
Also on hand was MBTA transit police officer Richard Donahue, wounded in the apprehension of the suspects, and bombing victims Heather Abbott and JP Norden.
Former Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference, who just played his last game with Boston on Monday night, also made an appearance, as did Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk.