By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The No. 88 NASCAR Nationwide team had a special angel looking over them during the Duel and the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17th. Alex Bowman was not the only name on the car, as the team honored the late Grant Reed at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The 18-year-old lost his battle with cancer on February 10th that he named ‘Michigan’. Besides being an avid Ohio State Buckeyes fan, he was an avid NASCAR fan, as well.
“It was an honor to have Grant’s name on the car,” Bowman said. “I think I probably met him in passing in 2013 at the race in Mid-Ohio. I’m not sure if I did or not. I feel like I probably did. He was there, because the race was sponsored by Nationwide’s Children’s Hospital. Just to have his name on the car is neat. I wish we would have had a better run for him and got him in Victory Lane, but it’s a big bummer that he passed and I’m honored to have his name on the car.”
Bowman finished 11th at the Daytona 500.
The Tucson, Arizona native says he may have met Reed at the 2013 Mid-Ohio race. Nationwide Children’s Hospital was on the car that weekend, as well as the race sponsor.
“I’m not sure if I did,” he said. “I feel like I probably did. We had Nationwide Children’s Hospital on the car that weekend, as well. It’s hard to say if I did or didn’t. I feel like I most likely did in passing.”
Through Nationwide and Hendrick Motorsports, there is an opportunity for the NASCAR team to showcase Patient Champions through their Patient Champion Program. Individuals, who are treated at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, can share their stories through numerous platforms or get involved in hospital programs, according to the website.
“That’s been a really cool partnership,” Bowman said. “I’ve gone to Children’s Hospital a few times — probably four-to-five times now — and it’s always an amazing experience, but also humbling experience to go through there. Having Patient Champions on board the car is always a special thing and I’m glad to be working with a partner, like Nationwide, that makes stuff like that possible. They do so much for their community, and it’s a really good company to be partners with. It’s been good, and obviously, HMS is great at embracing it, as well. All the different things we get to do with Nationwide is really cool.”
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital was the sponsor on the car for the 2018 Go Bowling at the Glen in Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York on Sunday, August 5th, 2018. According to Bowman, Nationwide Children’s Hospital may be on the car at the Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart on Saturday, July 13th at Kentucky Speedway.
“The weekend that we run the Children’s Hospital paint scheme is really cool,” Bowman said. “Having a kid at the track with you is always an amazing experience. Last year, we had a lot of fun with it. I feel like whoever is there with you… I feel like they have a great time. I hope that they have a great time. It’s really special for them and having as much fun as possible for them. We did that at Watkins Glen last year — and I guess it’s going to be in Kentucky this year — it’s going to be neat to do again. It’s always a lot of fun.”
Besides honoring Grant’s memory with his name on the car, Nationwide will do other tributes throughout the season with special schemes. In May during Memorial Day weekend at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Bowman’s car, along with every other NASCAR driver in the race, will have the name of a fallen soldier on their car through NASCAR Salutes.
“For sure, it’s really, really cool to be able to do all these different paint schemes,” Bowman. “They’re all a little different, whether it’s honoring a fallen soldier or having a patient champion there with you, or having a patient champion that has passed, they’re all different circumstances. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy working with Nationwide. They’re so involved in their community back in Columbus [Ohio].
“All of their schemes tie back to something that’s usually really special. Last year in May, we had a fallen solider’s family come out. That was a really cool experience — and they were really big NASCAR fans — so I felt like they had a really good time. It’s always really humbling, but Nationwide does a lot to make it really meaningful.”
Grant’s family may attend a NASCAR event in the future with Alex as the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide car.
“That would be awesome, just knowing he was a big NASCAR fan,” he said. “If that happens down the road, that would be great. It’s always special to have circumstances like that happen — and if I got to meet his family at the track, it would be really cool.”