cars tells a story of honor and sacrifice,” said Brent Dewar, NASCAR chief operating officer. “As the NASCAR industry reflects on Memorial Day Weekend, we’re proud to honor these and all fallen service members in a way that helps ensure their stories and lives are never forgotten.”
As far as Roush is concerned, it’s more than a continuation of NASCAR: An American Salute, the industry’s collective expression of reverence, respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend the United States today. To him, it’s personal. Roush wanted to enlist in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, but classes for navigators and pilots were full. By the time the draft was implemented in 1969, Roush wasn’t eligible to be drafted because he already was married with a child.
“I felt like I didn’t do my part,” Roush said. “That’s why I’m proud to do this, to recognize the loss the family had, the loss of a son and brother.”
The family hasn’t forgotten its relationship with Roush. They’ve stayed in touch for the past 15 years, and Roush has offered to fly all family members from Southern Ohio to the race to join in the celebration.
Butch Woolard now is the publisher of The Signal newspaper in Manchester, a job that’s been part of the family business for the last 70 years.
“My mom [Georgia Woolard] is 94 and she’s never been to a race,” Butch Woolard said. “We don’t know if 600 miles is a good one to start her with. If we can’t make it, you can be sure we’ll be watching on television.”
Like Roush, Butch Woolard forever will be connected by a friendship that started long before four best friends were photographed on the go-kart.
“Everyone in Manchester loved that go-kart except my father because we took From left to right: Jimmy Woolard, Jack Roush [on the go-kart], Butch Woolard and Frank Roush.
the engine out of his lawnmower to build it,” Woolard said. “Jim was an all-around, All-American boy who liked
playing baseball and basketball, or going fishing.” And riding the go-kart. Specialist Fourth Class James A. Woolard, a member of the U.S. Army’s A Battery, Sixth Battalion, 29th Artillery, Fourth Infantry Division, died Nov. 3, 1969, from injuries sustained five days earlier in a mortar attack near the Cambodian border at Pleiku in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam. He was 19.
Shortly before his death, Jimmy sent a photo to Butch of a young Vietnamese child sitting on his lap clutching a candy bar.
“He told me, ‘This is what I’m doing here. I’m trying to make their lives better,’” Woolard said. “He volunteered to go there because he wanted to do something mom and dad couldn’t do for him.”