Blake Shelton recently joined forces with award-winning NASCAR and IndyCar driver Jimmie Johnson to honor members of the military and veterans during the upcoming Indy 500.
The longtime friends, who met in Nashville in 2003 when Shelton was the new guy in country music and Johnson was the new guy in NASCAR, teamed up to design Johnson’s helmet for the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend race.
The pair met up at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California to collaborate on the design and reflected on their family connections to the military.
Shelton shared stories about his late father, Richard Lee “Dick” Shelton, and his late brother, Richie, who both served in the Army.
“Well my dad was a Veteran, not of the Korean War, he was in Korea just after the war, but he served as a honor guard over there. My brother was in the army and my dad was also a huge Indy 500 fan, I mean like if the Indy 500 was on, that was his Super Bowl,” the “Come Back As A Country Boy” singer shared. “That was his holiday and he would be extremely proud that I’m getting to do this with you and super jealous all at the same time.”
His dad, Richard Lee “Dick” Shelton, died on January 17, 2012, at the age of 71. Shelton admitted that he wishes he could go back in time to learn more about his experiences in the service.
“He was not one of those guys that talked about it that much, you know now that he’s gone, I just have a million questions that I would ask him about that now if I could go back in time ten years,” he confessed.
As Shelton and Johnson went on to collaborate, the award-winning country star opened up about the impact his music has on people and how much it means to him to know that it has helped members of the military through difficult times.
“You know when you do what I do, which is I make records and music. When you do it this long sometimes you can become maybe a little numb or calloused to what your music can mean to people and so many times over these years I’ve had these moments that are jolting,” Shelton said.
The Oklahoma native then recalled when members of the United States military have shared stories with him of how his music has helped them get through their deployment.
“You know a solider says to you ‘your song got me through my tour of the Middle East,’ or whatever conflict they might’ve been in or maybe just missing home. Maybe just being stationed somewhere far away when these guys go in when they’re so young, you know, it’s a lot,” Shelton explained. ”It reminds me that the things that you and I do are entertainment, but they’re important to people. I know you’ve had those same experiences I’m sure.”
Johnson will debut the design when he drives the 48 Carvana IndyCar at the Indy 500 this weekend, however Shelton got a sneak peek of the finished product before anyone else.
“Thank you so much for being involved here and helping design a helmet that means so much to me and to you at the American Legion,” Jimmie Johnson said before unveiling the helmet design.
“I literally actually feel foolish hearing you thank me, this is an honor, this is a no-brainer for me,” Shelton told him.
Upon seeing the helmet, Shelton exclaimed, “Unbelievable, I love it!”
“It came out beautiful,” Johnson added.
The 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday, May 29. Coverage of the race will air live beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET on NBC and run through 4:00 p.m. ET.
The Indy 500 will also be available via streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com.