Following the deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash, fans have been looking for ways to honor the victims. There was a celebration of life memorial at Staples Center on Monday, and now there will be more tributes during an upcoming NASCAR event. Bryant and the victims will be honored during the Auto Club 400.
Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal reported on Tuesday that there would be tributes to Bryant and the other victims during the race festivities this weekend, which made the fans very happy. This will be a massive sporting event, and they feel that it's only fitting for the longtime Lakers star to be mentioned.
With the news that No. 24 would be painted on the infield turf and that there would be a memorial display at the Auto Club Speedway, the fans expressed their support on Twitter.
Several talked about how attendees at the Fontana race track would be very fired up while others simply talked about respecting NASCAR more. The overwhelming majority of fans showed their support for the decision to honor the victims.
With the news that Bryant and the other victims would be honored during the Auto Club 400, NASCAR fans reacted in a variety of ways. Although some were simply left at a loss for words due to the emotions running through their systems.
There were some fans that couldn't put their feelings into words after hearing about the upcoming tributes. They could only post animated GIFs about shedding tears.
Wow!!! That is going to be quite a tribute 💜💛 I’ll be there all 3 days 👍— Suzette McGuire (@McGuireSuzette) February 25, 2020
NASCAR fans had already planned on being in attendance for this Cup Series race, as well as the practices and qualifying laps. However, their excitement grew upon hearing that Bryant and the other victims would be honored.
Many of these fans were fired up to witness the battles on the track, but they were also excited about the tributes. Getting to witness them in person would only make the weekend more special.
#NASCAR is doing all the right things this season.
I have to imagine there will be tons of viewers this weekend for the Kobe tributes as well. 📈📈📈 https://t.co/RV7uSy5Kfg— Cole Cusumano (@Cole_Cusumano_) February 25, 2020
Only three races have taken part in the Cup Series, but the fans have been tuning in more frequently. The season-opening Daytona 500 had improved ratings, which was partially attributed to President Donald Trump serving as grand marshal. The Pennzoil 400 in Las Vegas also saw an eight-percent increase in viewers over 2019.
The expectation among many NASCAR fans is that the Bryant tributes will only increase the ratings even more. Many will be tuning in to see the paint schemes featuring his number, as well as the number painted on the infield turf.
Bigger Than Basketball
While the majority of reactions to the Bryant tributes were positive, there were some users on social media that were confused. Why was a former NBA player being honored by the motorsports community?
Several of these questions were met with the explanation that Bryant was not a simple athlete. The fans believed that he impacted multiple avenues of life. He had fans among the various drivers.
The energy this weekend is going to be insane— Diego Alvarado™ (@18diego_dd) February 25, 2020
NASCAR is known as an inherently exciting sport for those in attendance at the track. Between the deafening sound of nearly 40 drivers speeding by at 200 mph and the battles atop the leaderboard, the fans are just constantly fired up.
With the Bryant tributes taking place at the track, the expectation among some NASCAR fans is that the energy level will be even higher. They believe that the fans will be excited about both the race and the all of the surrounding storylines.
That's so nice! Hey @Hendrick24Team will you be running Kobe's 24 font this week with your tribute scheme?— NASCARIndycar48 (@NASCARIndycar48) February 25, 2020
There will be no shortage of tributes to Bryant, Gianna, and the other victims of the helicopter crash during this Sunday's Auto Club 400. Some will be away from the actual track surface while others will be featured among the various cars.
Ryan Blaney has already unveiled the special Bryant tribute that he will be driving on Sunday, and now fans are awaiting the next design. Will William Byron and the No. 24 Chevrolet be shown off in the coming days?
Respect @kobebryant— 🇮🇩 Nikodio Eko Prasetyo 🇮🇩 (@Nikodio13) February 25, 2020
There were some fans on Twitter that didn't agree with the decision to honor Bryant due to some legal issues earlier in his career. However, the majority of fans were happy to see NASCAR showing love and support with the upcoming tributes.
In response, these individuals either wrote "respect" in reference to the racing organization or they tweeted Lakers-themed hearts. The messages were simple, but the fans made it very clear that they supported NASCAR.
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