JOLIET, Ill. (September 14, 2017) — Chicagoland Speedway will welcome a full line up of star power for this Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Tales of the Turtles 400 – the first race in the Cup Series Playoffs. A parade of honorary guests will grace the stage at the Magnificent Mile and a Half including a robust group of everyday heroes, a U.S. Olympian and the heroes in a half shell.
Chicagoland Speedway kicked off an initiative on National Super Hero Day earlier this year to recognize everyday heroes leading into and on race day. Chicagoland Speedway provided fans the opportunity to nominate their own personal hero to receive a VIP race-day experience and serve as Grand Marshal. The following will serve as Grand Marshal Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400:
1. James Griesenauer
Jim Griesenauer serves as a Niles, Illinois Police Officer where he continually goes above and beyond in the line of duty. For instance, Jim was the responding officer on the scene of a 911 call for a heart attack. Jim was able to deliver one man CPR until EMTs arrived essentially saving the man’s life because he was attended to quickly. Another incident involved Jim’s off-duty action to call in a house fire that had yet to be reported. Jim even checked to ensure occupants had evacuated, which they had not. He ended up coaxing an elderly woman and escorting her from the house to safety.
2. Lyndi Bieber
Lyndi Bieber is a 14-year veteran of the Cedar Rapids Police Department and mother to identical twin boys. After a particularly distressing pregnancy culminating with the twins being born four months early, forcing them into the NICU and then coming home on oxygen and heart monitors. While her twins now thrive at home, Lyndi still patrols the city streets throughout the night making her a hero at home and at work.
3. Cauy Clarke
Cauy was born with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex – a complex that causes tumors to form on the organs. At 16-years-old, Cauy has dealt with epilepsy, autism, severe ADHD and migraines and he has had three separate brain surgeries. Despite his constant struggles, Cauy bounces back stronger after each surgery with a determination to return to sports, school and everyday life.
4. William (Bill) Vaci
Following a drill-filled morning focusing on “hitting it hard from the yard,” the Engine House at 212 W. Cermak was called to building fire. When they arrived a woman was trapped on the third floor with flames erupting from every point of entry. Bill was quick to respond yelling to hit it hard from the yard. Once the flames died back, Bill ran to the ladder and saved the trapped woman.
5. Ines Kutlesa
Head of the Guardian Angel Community Services shelter, Ines Kutlesa, has devoted her life to helping others. She has touched countless lives of women and children who have been victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Those who know Ines describe her as “one of the most kind and unselfish individuals,” going above and beyond to help and support victims of domestic violence.
6. Dylan Richardson
Dylan was like any other 7-year-old boy, he loved SpongeBob, Star Wars, baseball, riding his bike, and superheroes like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (his favorite is Donatello). In July of 2007 Dylan was involved in fatal car accident. He took the brunt of the impact, resulting in severe head trauma. Despite valiant lifesaving efforts, he died 40 hours later. Dylan, however has lived on as a “superhero,” saving the lives of others through his organ donation. Dylan’s heart went to a teenage girl in South Carolina, his kidneys to a man in Kansas, and his liver traveled halfway around the world to save a young man in the United Arab Emirates. His parents have honored him by sharing his story to demonstrate the impact organ donations can have on the lives of strangers. In 2014, he was honored by Joey Gase, driver of the No. 52 car. Joey also has been affected by the impact of organ donation and makes a point of honoring donors on his racecar. This goes to show that sometimes superheroes can be found in the most unlikely places, like little boys in red capes.
7. Dale Stafford
Dale Stafford is a Wounded Warrior and Purple Heart recipient. Despite being disabled and experiencing pain everyday due to physical injuries and PTSD, he continues to keep a positive attitude. Most importantly, he serves as an inspiration and support system for his two sons. Dale acts as their scout leader and is an eagle scout himself. His 13- year-old son speaks of him highly, stating: “He is a true example to us of how to never give up no matter what life gives you.”
8. Robert Paoni
Robert Paoni is not only a 21-year veteran of the Illinois Air National Guard, but also an outstanding dad. As a single parent, Robert juggled raising two children while working a full-time job with the State of Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety. Despite his struggles, Robert successfully saved enough money to put his daughter through college allowing her to graduate in 2016 completely debt-free and continues to raise a son with special needs.
9. Kevin Matychowiak
Kevin Matychowiak served in the United States Air Force for 25 years. During his many years of service, Kevin was deployed twice to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and again to Afghanistan during the War on Terrorism. Now that he is retired, he continues to work for the Air Force as a Logistics War Planner at the Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois. While he jokes that he could never truly leave the military, it is honestly what defines him. Being the definition of an all-American, Kevin has a deep love for faith, family, country and NASCAR.
10. Amy Jo Walter
Hard work and determination led Amy Jo to achieve her dream of being admitted to the Illinois Fire Academy, only to result in a career-ending injury sustained in the line of duty. Despite the circumstances, Amy Jo continues to assist the Fire Academy as well as volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse, a humanitarian organization, where she provides support to victims of natural disasters. Amy Jo has been working periodically in Houston, Texas assisting flood victims and their families.
The 10 heroes will be accompanied by the heroes in a half shell, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Greg Cipes, the voice of Michelangelo in Nickelodeon’s iconic property.
Honorary Pace Car Driver
A member of Team Toyota and U.S. Olympian in the sport of speedskating, Sugar Todd will serve as Honorary Pace Car driver for Sunday’s Tales of the Turtles 400. She’ll drive a 2018 Toyota Camry, pacing the field to kick-off this year’s MENCS Playoffs. Todd first tried speedskating when she was eight years old and competed in the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 in both the 500m and 1000m events. She looks to make her second appearance for Team USA at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Pre-race ceremonies will culminate with the waving of the green flag by Senior Vice President of Nickelodeon Partner Marketing, Mark Epstein.
One of country music’s most recognizable hit-makers will perform just before the Tales of the Turtles 400 and is presented by Big 95.5, Chicago’s New Country. Turner is known for his distinctively rich and deep voice and country style which has moved more than 12.5 million units – a number that continues to raise as the Hannah, S.C., native recently released his sixth studio album “Deep South” featuring the hit single “Hometown Girl,” which reached No. 1 on the country music charts.
Turner has made a name for himself in the industry, garnering numerous GRAMMY, CMA and ACM nominations over the years. Some of his most distinguished hits include: “Your Man,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” “Would You Go with Me,” “All Over Me” and “Time Is Love.” He will perform many of these hits and more for fans during the pre-race concert on the Chicagoland Speedway tri-oval infield grass beginning at approximately 12:15 p.m. as part of the pageantry leading up to the kick-off race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
On top of an already star-studded line up, Jon Seda of NBC’s hit television series’ Chicago P.D. will lend himself to the pre-race pageantry. In addition, undefeated and world-ranked USBA IBF Boxing Champion Mike Lee will participate in the illustrious parade of talent.
The Gold Standard
Jim Cornelison who is better known as the “Gold Standard” will perform the Star Spangled Banner to kick off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in spectacular fashion on September 17. This will mark the fifth consecutive season that Cornelison has performed his iconic rendition of the ballad at the Magnificent Mile-and-a-Half.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway will take place on Sept. 17 as part of the four-race weekend Sept.14-17. The weekend will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 14 with the ARCA Racing Series followed by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, under the lights on Friday night. On Saturday, Sept. 16, the NASCAR XFINITY Series will hit the track as the precursor to Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series showdown, the first race in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
The complete 2017 NASCAR schedule at Chicagoland Speedway is as follows:
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Weekend
Thursday, Sept. 14 ARCA Racing Series SCOTT® 150
Friday, Sept. 15 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series The House 225
Saturday, Sept. 16 NASCAR XFINITY Series The House 300
Sunday, Sept. 17 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Tales of the Turtles 400
For the most current information about Chicagoland Speedway, follow us on Facebook along with Twitter and Instagram @chicagolndspdwy.
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Chicagoland Speedway & Route 66 Raceway
Chicagoland Speedway is a 1.5-mile, paved oval race track located in Joliet, Ill. The track has hosted racing events of the major U.S. racing series, and currently conducts races in all three NASCAR national series, including the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the NASCAR XFINITY Series, and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Along with Route 66 Raceway, a multimillion-dollar complex that includes a ¼ mile stadium-style drag strip and a ½ mile dirt oval track, Chicagoland Speedway is wholly-owned by International Speedway Corporation (ISC), a major promoter of motorsports activities. ISC owns and/or operates 13 of the nation’s major racing venues, including Daytona International Speedway. For more information on Chicagoland Speedway, visit ChicagolandSpeedway.com.
Chicagoland Speedway & Route 66 Raceway
Denny Hartwig: (815) 722-4180
Sarah Palya: (815) 722-4166