Seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty and Aric Almirola, the driver of the No. 43 Smithfield Ford for Richard Petty Motorsports, were among the guests at Dover International Speedway today as the new stock car for the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza presented by Smithfield was unveiled.
From left, Artie Kempner of Autism Delaware, Aric Almirola, Richard Petty, Bob Weber of Smithfield and Mike Tatoian, Dover International Speedway president and CEO, stand in front of the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza presented by Smithfield on Wednesday, March 30. The new No. 43 Smithfield Ford was placed in the statue’s hand during Wednesday’s event. DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY PHOTO
Smithfield Foods has entered into a three-year deal with Dover International Speedway as presenting sponsor of the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza, the 46-foot iconic statue that features a stock car in the structure’s right hand. Officials from Smithfield, Autism Delaware and the Monster Mile unveiled a new “Petty Blue” No. 43 Smithfield Ford for assembled media and fans on Wednesday.
“The bedrock of our industry is our fans and corporate sponsors,” said Mike Tatoian, Dover International Speedway president and CEO. “We have some giants coming together here, with Smithfield and Richard Petty Motorsports, and, of course, Miles the Monster.”
The event also coincided with the start of “Autism Awareness Month” in April and precedes the “AAA 400 Drive for Autism” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, May 15. Mike Bagley, from the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio, served as the event’s emcee.
Richard Petty and Aric Almirola sign the No. 43 Smithfield Ford before it is lifted into the Monster Monument on Wednesday. At right is Aric’s 3-year-old son Alex. DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY PHOTO
“Smithfield has been successfully involved with NASCAR for the past five years,” said Bob Weber, vice president of corporate marketing for Smithfield Foods. “It’s great for us because we’re fans as well. We try to find [projects] that are authentic for the race fans. This is one of them.”
During April, the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza presented by Smithfield, as well as Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, will be bathed in blue lights at night, as part of the Monster Mile’s support for “Autism Awareness Month.” Children on the autism spectrum, along with their families, were guests during Wednesday’s event and participated in the car unveiling.
“To have Richard Petty here, to have Smithfield here, supporting Autism Delaware is incredible,” said Artie Kempner, the founding president of Autism Delaware.
Petty won 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races during his Hall of Fame career and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992. Petty and Almirola took time before and after the event to sign autographs and take pictures with the assembled fans.
“I never thought I’d have the Monster to myself,” said Petty, who won seven NASCAR Cup races at the Monster Mile. “We always look forward to coming to Dover.”
Workers from First State Crane out of Felton, Del., help lower the No. 43 Smithfield Ford on the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza, presented by Smithfield, on Wednesday. DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY PHOTO
Almirola, a winner at Dover in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2010, has been racing full-time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2012, and earned a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs in 2014. In eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Dover, Almirola has two top-five and three top-10 finishes.
“I’m excited about coming here in a few weeks,” Almirola said. “Dover is one of my favorite tracks. The sensation of speed you feel here is unlike any other track we visit.
The May 13-15 NASCAR tripleheader weekend at Dover International Speedway also includes the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on Friday, May 13 and a NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash event on Saturday, May 14.
For tickets or more information, call (800) 441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com. You can also keep up with the Monster Mile at Facebook.com/DoverInternationalSpeedway, or on Twitter and Instagram at @MonsterMile.