CORNELIUS, N.C.— Do you know why the Toyota Mark Martin, Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip drive during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is No. 55?
It’s the year—1955—Charlie Loudermilk founded Aaron’s Inc. The Atlanta-based company is the nation’s leader in the sales and lease ownership of residential furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories. Aaron’s has been a longtime supporter of Waltrip and his race team. Aaron’s has grown from 400 to 2,000 stores since its initial race sponsorship of MWR in 2000.
This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion, will drive a No. 55 paint scheme that pays tribute to the 85-year-old Loudermilk. Waltrip’s No. 55 will carry pictures of Loudermilk through the years and include pictures of the important people in his life.
WALTRIP: “Aaron’s has been a cornerstone partner of Michael Waltrip Racing since 2000. I met (Aaron’s President) Ken Butler at a Shania Twain concert in Atlanta. We started talking and Ken asked me if I’d be interested in television commercials with Aaron’s. I said of course and the rest is history. We started running six Nationwide races with my team that worked out of a shop behind my house. Our relationship has grown to where Aaron’s is a big reason for MWR’s success.
“Over the years I’ve had a pretty up-close view and let me tell you Charlie Loudermilk and Aaron’s are the epitome of quality. Charlie started out renting 500 folding chairs in the 1950s and grew his business into a major company where today you can go and get a 70-inch flat screen. There’s so much to say about him that it’s hard to do him justice in just a few words. Did you know he provided the tables, chairs and tents for Dr. Martin Luther King’s march in Selma, Ala.? Charlie made some historic friendships during the civil rights movement that are amazing. Our car has a picture of Charlie and (former King aide, Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador) Andrew Young. You go around the city of Atlanta and Charlie’s name is everywhere. He’s had a hand in so much that has happened in that city.
“We wanted to honor Charlie because of all the years he and his family have stood behind us and all the good work they’ve done for Aaron’s employees and customers as well as the community. Like the hood says, ‘Thank you, Charlie.’”
- APPEARANCE: Waltrip will appear at the Aaron’s display at 9:55 a.m. and Toyota PitPass at 10:10 a.m. Sunday.
- DECADES: Sunday’s race is Waltrip’s 770th Sprint Cup start and 1,058th combined start in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Only Waltrip, Richard Petty and Mark Martin own more than 1,000 combined starts. Only Waltrip and Martin have won in those series in four different decades.
- CHASSIS: Primary – 741 – Backup – 710 – first race for both in 2012.
- OWNER POINTS: The No. 55 is 14th in owner points just 15 points behind the No. 18 for the highest non-Chase car. All three MWR’s fulltime teams are in the top 14. The Clint Bowyer’s No. 15 is fourth and Martin Truex’s No. 56 team is eighth.
No. 55 2012 Schedule
Oct. 13 Charlotte – Martin
Oct. 21 Kansas – Martin
Oct. 28 Martinsville- Vickers
Nov. 4 Texas – Martin
Nov. 11 Phoenix – Martin
Nov. 18 Homestead – Martin