On May 12, Team Penske NTT IndyCar Series drivers Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power competed against the other 11 drivers that represent the team across all of its racing disciplines for a very unique virtual fundraising event.
All 14 Team Penske drivers participated in the Verizon Pay It Forward LIVE Invitational iRacing event that evening, competing on three distinctly different tracks and in different vehicles on the iRacing platform. In addition to producing 90 minutes of fun and excitement for the fans that generated more than 6.5 million views on the live stream, the event was part of a program that’s helped Verizon raise more than $7 million for small businesses that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Verizon has been hosting the Pay It Forward LIVE series on Tuesday and Thursday nights during the pandemic with some of the biggest names in entertainment performing live from their living rooms to support local businesses. During the Team Penske iRacing Invitational, viewers were encouraged to visit Verizon.com/PayItForwardLive and contribute however they could to support local businesses by shopping online, buying a gift card or ordering a meal. For every use of the hashtag #PayItForwardLIVE, Verizon is donating $10, up to $2.5 million, to support small businesses. Verizon also announced an additional $2.5 million donation recently to support small businesses, bringing the total commitment up to $7.5 million.
The extraordinary efforts by Verizon, Team Penske’s longtime sponsor in IndyCar Series competition, is the latest example of how many of the team’s partners have stepped up to join the relief efforts and aid those in need during this global crisis.
General Motors (GM) was one of the first automakers to commit idle assembly lines to the fight against COVID-19. On April 8, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded GM a $489 million contract to deliver 30,000 ventilators by the end of August. The first shipment was delivered to Chicagoland area hospitals with an additional 600 being shipped to additional locations. GM CEO Mary Barra was recognized on Fortune’s “World’s 25 Greatest Leaders: Heroes of the Pandemic” as a result of the company’s efforts.
GM also transitioned its ISO Class-8 equivalent Cleanroom in Warren, Mich. to producing personal protective equipment (PPE) masks (shown above). GM has already delivered over 20,000 masks and is now producing 50,000 masks per day. To accelerate the availability of masks, GM shared its production plans with the Michigan Manufacturers Association, an organization with nearly 1,700 companies across all industries, to accelerate efforts and get more masks to those on the frontline.
Hitachi company, JR Automation, has been working with GM and other manufacturers to provide automated systems that are engineered and built to manufacture essential protective equipment and medical devices such as N95 masks, gowns, gloves, hospital beds, diagnostic testing kits and devices. Hitachi Automotive Systems Americas, Inc. has also partnered with several companies in central Kentucky to produce up to 500 face shields per day.
Penske partner XPEL has created face shields and the company is providing the product at cost using materials already on-hand or in its supply chain. Stratasys has also started to rapidly produce disposable face shields.
EnerSys successfully tasked their Energy Systems team in Europe to provide remote hybrid generator/battery systems for power across cell towers in remote parts of Africa where power is not readily available. This was essential to the delivery of critical wireless data and communications during this ongoing crisis. The EnerSys plant in Warrensburg, Mo., recently produced 90,000 CYCLON® battery cells for ventilators that will play a key role in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Safety-Kleen is on track to clean and decontaminate the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indy Car Series offices with its personnel and its products. In addition, Clean Harbors and Safety-Kleen will be helping decontaminate the INDYCAR, NASCAR and NHRA racetracks as return-to-action dates approach for each series.
In addition to manufacturing supplies, Team Penske partners have also introduced new programs to connect communities dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, Verizon announced a $2.5 million grant shared across international countries and charities providing healthcare support and food relief. Verizon also donated $3 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization (WHO), as part of a partnership with Global Citizen’s “One World: Together At Home” global broadcast to help aid healthcare workers. Verizon’s total COVID-19 crisis commitment stands at over $50 million to nonprofit organizations around the globe.
PPG announced is would commit more than $1.5 million in COVID-19 crisis support in mid April. The funding recipients include a wide range of organizations supporting immediate community relief efforts and emerging recovery needs amid the impact of the crisis.
Hitachi High-Tech America has adapted its STEM Education Outreach Program to accommodate virtual learning environments. The program has responded to the needs of new and existing entities to establish virtual education initiatives. GM has donated $1 million to the DonorsChoose “Keep Kids Learning” program to help children get access to vital resources needed for their continued education. GM has also pledged an additional $1.65 million to GM facility communities across the United States.
Menards has kept 100% of its stores, plants and distribution centers open and the company is committed to keeping store shelves fully stocked with essential supplies for local neighborhoods, while practicing social distancing and taking the necessary precautions to keep its customers safe and healthy.
As the world continues to deal the global pandemic, Team Penske is proud that its partners have rallied together as a positive force in the battle against COVID-19.