Posted January 17, 2014

January 17, 2014

Palm Beach, Fla. – As the sun prepares to rise upon the 2014 Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series, tens of thousands of passionate drag racing fans will flock to Palm Beach International Raceway™ for the fourth consecutive year, the lighting quick quarter-mile plays host to The Professional Racers Owners Organization, Inc. PRO Winter Warm-up on January 17th & 18th 2014. And the honor of starting the event both nights by singing the United States National Anthem will be NHRA Drag Racer and Drive4COPD Advocate Ambassador Joe Morrison.

Morrison, a professionally trained vocalist and guitar player has years of experience performing in front of large crowds. In fact, in 2013, the talented Drag Racer from Flemington, NJ played in a Van Halen Tribute Band. However, this will be the first time that the aspiring Top Fuel Dragster Driver has been given the honor of paying tribute to America by singing the National Anthem in-between two of the very same Top Fuel Dragster's he's planning on driving in 2015.

"Growing up in Drag Racing, one of my favorite traditions is the singing of the Star Spangled Banner prior to the firing of the first pair of race cars," noted Morrison, a second-generation drag racer who has served as an Advocacy Captain in the State of New Jersey for the COPD Foundation for the past three years. "But to be given this honor to sing our Nation's National Anthem in front of my peers and the thousands of passionate drag racing fans at PBIR is truly special. I can't thank Joe Castello of WFO Radio and the staff at PBIR enough for this outstanding opportunity. As a proud American I will pour my heart into this effort."

Presented by Bennett Auto Supply, the PRO Winter Warm-up will feature an impressive group of drag racing’s elite including Kalitta Motorsports drivers Doug Kalitta, David Grubnic, Del Worsham and Alexis DeJoria – the daughter of Paul Mitchell Hair Products founder John Paul Dejoria.

Among the fastest-accelerating machines in the world, 8,000-horsepower Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars accelerate from 0-to-100 mph in less than a second and reach top speeds in excess of 300 mph. Fans attending the PRO Winter Warm-up will not only have the opportunity to watch the action on the track; they can also experience the thrill of being up close and personal in the pits, as teams rebuild their engines after each pass – just as they can do at any NHRA National Event.

Morrison; who previously has driven his family's popular 1948 Fiat-Topolino Injected-Alcohol 190 mile per hour Altered will be upgrading his competition NHRA Competition License to drive David Douthit's 280 mile per hour Jet Dragster – splitting driving chores at 20 events across the United States and into New Zealand in 2014 with fellow COPD Foundation State of Utah Advocacy Captain Tim Charlet; who operates at the Managing Director of this new Drive4COPD Expansion program.

Earlier this past spring, the COPD Foundation named Morrison as an Official Advocate Ambassador for their Drive4COPD Campaign; a role previously held by popular NASCAR Drivers Danica Patrick and Austin Dillon. The goal of the new NHRA Drive4COPD Expansion is to continue the superlative effort of raising awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that has been an ongoing project within the NASCAR racing community for the past three years.

"Joe is a great example of how a family member can make an impact by dedicating his life to raising awareness of the disease that affects his father," says John W. Walsh, president and co-founder of the COPD Foundation. "He's incorporated the COPD awareness message in what he loves to do. Every family member of an individual living with COPD can do the same, and if they did, imagine how many more lives would be improved."

Morrison was planning on visiting the early season test session to continue to build relationships with potential marketing partners who see the value in branding their products, goods and services not only to the 24 million American's who currently live with COPD, but the passionate NHRA Drag Racing fan base which consists of over 100 million people worldwide. The opportunity to sing The National Anthem literally came about earlier this week via a social media posting on Facebook. The existing relationships between Charlet, Morrison and the NHRA Drag Racing community quickly opened and closed this opportunity within a period of 12-hours.

The event is being held at Palm Beach International Raceway™, but can be seen live online by visiting http://www.bangshift.com. The opening ceremonies are planned to begin at 3pm EST both Friday and Saturday evening. Bangshift.com has provided live video coverage of this event for the past two years, with over 400,000 people watching this event live from as far away as Qatar, Australia and Japan. In fact, the crowned Prince of Qatar; Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani, and active Drag Racer himself is the owner of the Defending Top Fuel World Champion Shawn Langdon's Al-Anabi Entry that will be testing live at this event.

About The DRIVE4COPD Program
DRIVE4COPD is a community-centered public health initiative to educate, inform, and screen millions of people who may be at risk for COPD. As many as 24 million Americans have COPD but approximately half don't know it and remain undiagnosed.

As the Official Health Initiative of NASCAR® since 2010, DRIVE4COPD has screened almost 3 million NASCAR fans. The Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 race held at the Daytona International Speedway each February is regarded as one of the most important races of the season. The race serves to raise much needed public awareness about the third leading cause of death in America through its outreach to fans.

Led by the COPD Foundation, DRIVE4COPD aims to help people identify symptoms of COPD and take action by joining the COPD community. This large-scale education and awareness campaign is working to help bring COPD to the forefront through grassroots and national mobilization activities. It is the mission of the NHRA Drive4COPD campaign to expand this highly effective awareness and educational platform into the global sport of Drag Racing in 2014 and beyond.

For more information about the new NHRA Drive4COPD Program, or to learn how you or your company can become active members of this exciting new educational awareness motorsports marketing program, please contact Joe Morrison or Tim Charlet @ TCharlet@copdfoundation.org.
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