Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway and multiple NASCAR teams will honor the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant with a variety of activities this weekend.
The track is located about an hour from Los Angeles, where Bryant spent his entire 20-year career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant and eight others, including his teenage daughter Gianna, were killed in a helicopter crash on January 26.
Bryant’s number was 24 and Auto Club Speedway will have a 24 logo in its turf. The track will also mention Bryant and the others who lost their lives — Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan — during the race invocation.
A memorial display will be set up in the fan zone for fans to leave a message. After race weekend, Auto Club will send the display and a monetary donation to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation.
Ryan Blaney and William Byron will run tribute paint schemes Sunday afternoon.
Blaney’s No. 12 Team Penske Ford will be run in Lakers colors of yellow and purple, which are Lakers’ colors. Blaney met Bryant a few years ago at an event for Body Armor, a company Bryant invested in that also sponsored Blaney.
Byron’s No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will also be yellow and purple, but will not feature its traditional flames. Out of respect for those who lost their lives in the crash, a team representative said the flames were removed from this weekend’s design.
The team is also tying in a charity aspect. A portion of the proceeds from those who order the die-cast version of Byron’s car from Lionel Racing will be donated to After School All-Stars. Arnold Schwarzenegger founded the organization, and Bryant was one of its ambassadors.
Richard Childress Racing will have signage on Tyler Reddick’s car.
Daniel Suarez will wear gloves and shoes honoring Bryant, which will also be auctioned off for charity.