INDIANAPOLIS – While deployed in Iraq, Gunnery Sgt. Samuel Deeds, a diehard NASCAR fan, dreamed of working in the sport after completing his service. In 2005, those dreams took a back seat when Deeds placed himself in harm’s way to save the lives of his fellow Marines.
This summer Deeds will travel to one of the country’s most historic tracks, Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), not as a fan or employee, but as the race namesake.
On June 27 in his hometown of Erlanger, Ky., Deeds was recognized as the winner of Crown Royal’s “Your Hero’s Name Here” program, which awards one deserving individual naming rights to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday, July 28 at IMS. Surrounded by friends, family and Marines, Deeds cemented his place in the NASCAR record books by laying the final brick, engraved with the official race logo, in a ceremonial “Yard of Bricks” at Flagship Park in Erlanger.
While deployed in Iraq, Deeds came across an improvised explosive device (IED) while setting up a vehicle checkpoint. Upon seeing fellow Marines approaching, he exposed himself to the device, risking his life to save others. He was severely injured and underwent more than 30 surgeries and procedures following the blast. Three years later, while still recovering, Deeds’ heroic instincts took charge once again when he saved the lives of three individuals caught in a rip tide off the coast of North Carolina.
In addition to Deeds’ friends and family, special representatives from Crown Royal, Big Machine Label Group (BMLG), and IMS attended the ceremony and spoke of Deeds’ many accomplishments. NASCAR driver Kurt Busch surprised Deeds during the ceremony, appearing on behalf of the Armed Forces Foundation (AFF), and country music star Justin Moore debuted a special song titled “Heroes,” which was penned specifically for the “Your Hero’s Name Here” program.
“I was so fortunate to be part of this program last summer,” Moore said. “That experience and the brave men and women I met along the way served as inspiration for this new song. The opportunity to debut ‘Heroes’ in front of a true hero like Samuel, his friends, family and community is incredibly special to me as well as all of the folks at BMLG.”