At the start of every IndyCar Series race, the infield hospitality area is abuzz. Fans chatter about their favorite teams. IndyCar drivers gear up before they strap into the cockpit and rip through the streets. Sponsors, VIPs and team guests vie for the chance to meet an IndyCar driver.
But for us at Panther Racing, each race is about more than just fun and excitement. Our team is on a mission to support American heroes – service members, veterans, and military families. Since partnering with the National Guard before the 2008 season, our at-track guests aren’t multi-million dollar CEOs or high-profile marketing and sales executives. Instead, we invite National Guard Soldiers and their families, military leaders, and row after row of potential employers for Veterans in the local area.
For the 2012 season, we're teaming up with First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and the White House on its Joining Forces initiative and with the US Chamber of Commerce and its Hiring Our Heroes initiative. The joint venture between our three entities is broad-scope, but the core of our commitment to these programs happens in the hospitality unit. We invite about 100 employers from companies across the state engage with Soldiers and their families before every race. We treat everyone to an elaborate program with a very straight-forward message: Hiring veterans and their spouses isn’t just good for the country, it’s good for business.
In the hours leading up to the start of the race, we give employers a crash-course on the many advantages of hiring veterans, who are highly trained, skilled, and dedicated employees. At the same time, these employers are able to interface with the Soldiers attending the race to find out how to step up immediately and hire veterans.
Earlier in the month, the US Chamber committed to hosting 400 hiring fairs across the country – events where all of the employers in attendance have to prove they have jobs available before they can even step in the door. Joining Forces is a national initiative that encourages Americans to honor, recognize, and support military members, veterans, and their families. One of Joining Forces’ focuses is on improving employment opportunities for veterans and military spouses. We will work with both entities all year to help raise awareness about how the community can help get Veterans employed.
Our driverJR Hildebrand, one of IndyCar’s brightest young stars,is proud to be part of a team that highlights on true American heroes. “We represent a group of unbelievable people, and being associated with the National Guard for me is an unbelievably humbling experience,” he says.
In the 2012 IndyCar Season, we are shining a spotlight on hiring the men and women who have bravely served their country. Now, it’s our turn to give them the opportunities they deserve. Let’s Hire America’s Heroes!
Panther is a championship-winning race team in the IZOD IndyCar Series, sponsored by the National Guard.