As international support for Ukraine continues with the country now seventy-seven days into its defence from Russian invasion, Spire Motorsports has joined the increasing pool of aid. On Tuesday, the NASCAR Cup Series team announced a partnership with the Ukranian American Coordinating Council (UACC), which will paint the #77 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in blue and orange for Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway. Josh Bilicki will drive the car.
The livery’s base resembles the Ukrainian flag with blue atop a yellow band, but also features the pattern—albeit rotated—running from the nose to rear. Besides the colours, the #77 features the phrase “Slava Ukraini” (“Glory to Ukraine”) along the quarter panels. Underneath the slogan are the cities Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson, and Mykolaiv, all of which are locations of major battles in the conflict.
The UACC is a nonprofit founded in 1965 by Ukrainian World War II veterans who immigrated to the United States with the goal of supporting Ukrainian Americans. Following Russia’s invasion, the UACC shifted towards helping Ukrainian civil defence by providing helmets and body armour. Receiving the blessing of the U.S. State Department, the UACC acquired such equipment through direct purchases and donations from parties like police and state defence forces.
“In 1991 when Ukraine became independent, many believed that their dreams had finally come to fruition, showing those in Ukraine the path to true democracy,” said UACC Vice President Oksana Tscherepenko. “Now, as we watch the occupiers threaten Ukraine’s right to freedom and democracy, it becomes obvious that this dream is not fully realized and our men, women, children and elderly are being killed just for protecting their fundamental rights to democracy. Many civilians are defending themselves and Ukraine with little training and without proper gear or protection.
“After receiving a license from the U.S. State Department, the UACC purchased gear and received incredibly generous donations from individuals, law enforcement agencies, and state national guards, allowing us to ship an abundance of ballistic gear including helmets, vests and plates. One hundred percent of that gear is delivered to civilians in Ukraine who need it the most.”
Bilicki is racing a part-time schedule for Spire Motorsports, having made six starts for the team so far in 2022 with a best finish of sixteenth at Atlanta. The #77 is currently thirty-fourth in owner points with Bilicki and Landon Cassill making up most of the schedule, while Justin Allgaier drove the car at Bristol Dirt.
“As I prepare for this weekend’s race in Kansas, there are civilian men and women defending their freedom and lives on the other side of the world in Ukraine,” Bilicki stated. “It’s easy for us to take our freedom for granted, which allows us to enjoy life, liberty and do what we love. The UACC’s mission is to provide support for Ukrainian civilian men and women, who often don’t have the equipment they need to protect themselves in their struggle for freedom. Our message this weekend is that we support the ongoing global humanitarian effort and provide hope to the men, women and children of Ukraine.”
Many motorsport authorities and teams have also joined in relief efforts. Hendrick Motorsports, a technical ally of Spire, donated $102,000 to a fund run by Samaritan’s Purse following the Las Vegas race in May, while fellow Cup outfit Team Penske sent $1 million to the World Central Kitchen to pay for meals. Richard Childress, whose team is also close with Spire, donated ammunition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Sokal, which sponsors NASCAR Xfinity Series operation B.J. McLeod Motorsports, also added to the Samaritan’s Purse fundraiser and placed “Ukraine Strong” on Stefan Parsons‘ hood for the series’ Vegas event.
Other contributions from the racing world include a wide array of FIA member organisations launching refugee transport missions and sending crucial supplies to those in Ukraine. Earlier this month, prominent off-road communications company PCI Race Radios donated 100 two-way radios to Ukraine’s military, which was overseen by former SCORE International champion David Caspino.