Hendrick Motorsports and Axalta are honoring the late Kobe Bryant with a special one-race-only purple and gold paint scheme on the No. 24 Chevrolet to be driven by William Byron in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others passed away in a helicopter accident last month. Auto Club Speedway is just about an hour from Los Angeles where Bryant starred for 20 years as one of the NBA’s best players and a five-time champion with the Lakers.
In honor of the victims, Axalta will make a donation to After-School All-Stars, a non-profit organization where Bryant served as a National Ambassador. Its locations include Los Angeles and Bryant’s hometown of Philadelphia where Axalta is based. Proceeds from the sale of die-cast replicas of the car will be donated to After-School All-Stars by Byron, 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champions Hendrick Motorsports and collectibles manufacturer Lionel. Collectible die-cast replicas of the car will be available for pre-order beginning later this evening at LionelRacing.com.
"We continue to pray for all of the families," Byron said in a story on HendrickMotorsports.com. "It’s humbling to be able to run such a special car, especially in the Los Angeles area. I’m a huge sports fan and followed Kobe’s career really closely like so many other people. He left a legacy that goes beyond basketball and has reached across all of the sports world and into many different communities where he gave back. I’m very happy that Axalta wanted to do this, and I hope to make everyone proud in the No. 24 on Sunday."
Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 BODYARMOR Team Penske Ford will honor Bryant as well on Sunday and Daniel Suarez will pay tribute with a special pair of driving gloves, matching shoes and all nine names of the those that were lost in the crash will appear on his No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota.
Bubba Wallace paid tribute to the victims of the helicopter crash on his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet at the 2020 Daytona 500.