CONCORD, N.C. -- Chase Elliott brought his “DESI9N TO DRIVE” initiative to the Braves game in Atlanta on Tuesday when he treated the children who designed his car, firesuit, gloves and helmet for the first 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoff event at Darlington Raceway to a special day at Truist Park.
Elliott’s whose custom gear is on the auction block until Sept. 8 to raise funds for the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Teammates Kyle Larson, William Byron and Alex Bowman also had custom shoes created by Children’s patients and Mary Frances Webb, who designed the custom look for Elliott’s car, was on hand at the South Carolina track to see the No. 9 team in action.
“It’s just nice to be able to interact with all of them here,” Elliott said. “Obviously, I got to see Mary on Sunday, but to be able to have them all here and thank them for their creativity and willingness to want to be a part of our race last weekend and to have them enjoy a fun night at a game with their families.”
Elliott’s “DESI9N TO DRIVE” program started six years ago and had raised up to $160,000 before this year’s event. Before 2021, the campaign mainly focused on designing shoes, but Elliott was able to work with primary sponsor NAPA AUTO PARTS to ensure that more patients at Children’s could see their creations come to life at the track.
“I feel like each year we’ve grown it a little bit at a time,” Elliott said. “Obviously, I had a lot of help from NAPA this year and them giving up a race and really wanting to help with this initiative. The biggest thing that we have going in our favor is the community of Atlanta. Fortunately, we’re aligned with a couple of the major corporations here in town, and I think that has really opened the door to a lot and makes a big impact and that community support for one another (made) it was it was this past weekend.”
Elliott said his perspective while hanging out with the kids during the game was an inspiration. He lauded their attitude and how they look on the bright side of every situation, especially since many of them are battling cancer and other diseases. The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE
“A lot of them have been through more than what most people see in a lifetime,” he said. “A lot of them are not even 15 years old – they are just fighting and battling. Having the attitude and positivity that they have not only have for themselves, but the way they express it outwardly has a positive impact on the people around them. I feel like that’s the biggest lesson we can take from it.”
Elliott also was able to join the broadcast booth, drive his NAPA/Children’s Chevrolet around the field and sit back and watch the Braves defeat the Washington Nationals, 8-5. Spending quality time with the kids from Children’s also allowed Elliott to focus on the positives of his performance at Darlington. The No. 9 machine suffered damage after an on-track accident, which ended his night early.
“Mary was a great example, and her attitude and perspective on Sunday was incredible. It’s hard to not recognize that and when you have a really tough day, it puts a lot of things in perspective. I appreciated that and we’re looking forward to Richmond.”
Elliott will carry those emotions with him on Saturday when he gears up for the second race of the 2021 playoffs at Richmond Raceway. The event will start at 7:30 p.m. ET and air live on NBCSN.