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Kentucky Speedway June Nationwide Series race to promote program encouraging use of designated drivers

Apr 16, 2014, 2:42 PM EDT

Bill and Muriel Elliott continue the memory of their son, Ensign John Elliott, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2000. Bill and Muriel Elliott continue the memory of their son, Ensign John Elliott, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2000.

It’s rare that someone is happy to get or pay a traffic ticket from a state trooper.

But thousands of NASCAR fans will gladly fork out their hard-earned money for a different kind of ticket, yet one that carries the same kind of meaning as many of the tickets that police across the U.S. issue countless times each day.

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, which includes the Kentucky State Police, will be the title sponsor of the June 27 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway, track officials announced Wednesday.

The John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 will continue a partnership between the track and the highway safety department’s HERO program, which promotes the use of designated drivers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly a third of the more than 10,000 U.S. traffic-related deaths involve alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Elliott was a Navy Ensign and U.S. Naval Academy graduate who was killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver in July 2000 while traveling home to New Jersey from Annapolis, Md., to celebrate his mother Muriel’s birthday.

The driver of the car that struck Elliott’s had previously been arrested on another DUI charge, and was killed in the same wreck that took Ensign Elliott’s life.

Elliott’s parents, Bill and Muriel, established the national HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers. It’s motto is: “Our goal is to end drunk driving by making the use of designated drivers be as automatic as wearing a seatbelt.”

“Kentucky Speedway has been a long time partner with the Office of Highway Safety. Together we saved lives with the seatbelt campaign and we are excited to save even more by reminding people to drive sober, and be a HERO,” Kentucky Speedway General Manager Mark Simendinger said in a media release. “It’s good to know that people’s lives are being saved with this program.”

The Friday night (June 27)  race will be part of a NASCAR tripleheader weekend at the 1.5-mile track, with the Camping World Truck Series having at it on Thursday, June 26, and the main event, the Sprint Cup Series event on Saturday, June 28.

To learn more about the HERO program, click on the video below.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

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