When Daniel Suarez takes the track on Sunday for the Auto Club 400, he will be paying tribute to the seven victims of a Jan. 26 helicopter crash in California. His No. 96 Toyota Camry will feature the names of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, Alyssa Altobelli, John and Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan. The names of the victims will be above the passenger side door.
The Daniel Suarez No. 96 has the names of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash victims above the passenger-side door. pic.twitter.com/RPbFw48eQw— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) February 28, 2020
"You mean the '7 others' have actual names?! People are going to get the chance to celebrate their lives too?! Thank you for being remotely human, NASCAR," one fan wrote on Twitter. Several others posted similar comments in an effort to honor the seven other victims of the crash.
"Thank you Daniel Suarez!!!!" another NASCAR fan added to the conversation. Whether or not they support the driver of the No. 96 Toyota was irrelevant at this point. What truly mattered to them was that Suarez was making an effort to remember those that lost their lives.
"Loooove it!!!" another fan added. Between the custom Bryant shoes and the text on the door, the supporters of NASCAR were overjoyed by Suarez's tribute to the helicopter crash victims.
The text on the door is not the only tribute by Suarez during the Auto Club 400. The driver will be introduced prior to the race while wearing a No. 24 Bryant jersey. He will also be wearing custom shoes and gloves that feature the colors of the Los Angles Lakers. Each accessory features Bryant's numbers with the Lakers (8, 24), as well as a silhouette of his face. Additionally, the shoes say "Mamba Mentality" on the sides.
Suarez has plans to auction off these shoes and gloves following the race, which is being done on eBay. All proceeds will be donated to the MambaOnThree Foundation, which was created by Vanessa Bryant to provide financial assistance for the other victims' families.
"To give back, we're going to auction off the gloves and shoes after the race to try and donate as much money as possible to the Mamba Foundation," Suarez said in a press release. "We're going to put a minimum of a $5,000 donation into this foundation. I have opinions about many athletes, but I've always admired most the ones who are not only great at their game, but great outside their game. Kobe was that kind of athlete, and that kind of a person."0comments
Suarez will be one of a few drivers paying tribute to Bryant and the other victims of the helicopter crash during Sunday's Auto Club 400. Whether it's the custom accessories or the text above his door, he is making it clear that everyone involved in the Jan. 26 incident should be remembered.
Photo Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images