NASCAR announces 9/11 memorial car

NEW YORK - August 31, 2009 Gordon will race the car on Sept. 11 at the Richmond International Speedway in Virginia. It also bears the phrase "9/11 Memorial," a reference to the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum.

Gordon co-owns the North South Motorsports team, based in Dubois, Pa. It's near the memorial site for United 93, one of four hijacked jetliners that crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.

"It's a real honor and privilege for us to do this," said Gordon, adding that hearing the stories of firefighters and police officers has been "incredible."

The car is a black, blue and white Ford Fusion with patriotic stars and stripes. After being delivered in a 53-foot-long truck, the hood was removed so trade center responders could sign its underside.

"I don't know much about NASCAR, but now I've become a huge fan," said retired fire Lt. Mickey Krofs, who survived the collapse of the trade center's north tower.

The unveiling took place at the museum preview site, where visitors can use interactive computers and view photos and a model of what the ground zero site eventually will look like.

"No matter what profession you're in, there are important ways to contribute to building a 9/11 memorial and museum," said Joseph Daniels, president of the 9/11 Memorial Foundation, adding that he hopes the car will inspire NASCAR fans to learn more about the memorial.

Jim O'Connell, NASCAR spokesman, said up to 75,000 people will be in the stands at the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and he predicted about 2 million TV viewers would watch it on ESPN 2. An identical car is ready as a backup, in case the other one is damaged in the race.

It's assigned No. 72, the number of retired racer Bill McKenzie, who's now part of Gordon's team.

The vehicle, with a 358 engine by Roush Yates, can reach around 200 mph.

"I hope everybody is cheering for us, and I hope we have a good run," Gordon said.

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