Michelle R. Martinelli
Joey Logano is searching for ways to aid the most vulnerable members of his Charlotte-area community during the global coronavirus pandemic. The NASCAR driver recognizes his privilege in these uncertain times, and he wants to help.
“Everyone has so many questions about what’s going to happen,” Logano told For The Win by phone Tuesday. “What’s going to happen with everybody’s health? What’s going to happen with hospitals? What’s going to happen in their jobs? Are they going to have enough food?”
He said he’s specifically concerned about people having enough to eat if they lost their jobs or if their children can’t receive meals from now-shuttered schools. On a larger scale, he’s also focused on the economic impact on the community of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, which will take effect Thursday morning and last for three weeks in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina as a result of the local spread of COVID-19.
So the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion started with his Joey Logano Foundation, which teamed up with Bobbee O’s BBQ in Charlotte to offer free meals to children on a daily basis.
“We’re trying to think of all the meals some families relied on for their kids while they’re in school,” said Logano, who won two of the Cup Series’ first four 2020 races before the NASCAR season was postponed through May 3.
“That’s two meals a day for a lot of them. Now they have to absorb that cost as a family while maybe not having the income coming in on top of that. It’s going to be hard to make everything work … but you get laid off from your job and it’s not even your fault. What do you do?”
These free meals, which are through April 2, are a good start, but he said his influence is “not at the level I want it to” be. So he and his foundation are trying to unify some of his NASCAR partners and beyond to have a broader impact on the community.
He also said he was inspired by a recent sermon at his church to look for ways to help others who don’t have the financial resources he has.
“A lot of us can handle and weather the storm in different ways and maybe still generate income,” said Logano, who was the eighth highest-paid NASCAR driver in 2019 with $10 million in total earnings, according to Forbes.
“But for others, they get laid off because of this or may need to shut down their business or may not have a way to feed their kids. Having to home school your kids! All of our situations are unique, and trying to identify who needs help. And how do we help them in a safe way? How do we help our local business stay open and employ people in a safe way?”
CORONAVIRUS & SPORTS: Get the latest news and information right in your inbox. Sign up here.
He said he will continue to offer some food-related relief in some capacity beyond April 2 and on a larger scale. But he has to figure out the most efficient ways to do it in terms of cost and distribution — and how to make it all happen as fast as possible.
Right now, he has an idea to partner with quick-service or fast-casual restaurants for a food truck delivery option for people in the area. But he said that’s still in the very early stages.
“I think some of it’s because people are scared to leave their house or they can’t afford to leave their house,” he said. “Driving a car is not cheap either, right? So I think we have to make it as convenient as possible for people in this moment.”
While brainstorming his own ideas, Logano is also crowdsourcing. He and his wife, Brittany, who are expecting their second child in early May, made a video this week asking people to help them identify people and areas that may need help the most.
“[We’re] trying to figure out ways we can all work together,” he said. “And if there’s a few sparks, figure out a way to dump some gasoline on it and make something really big happen and impact our community in a big way. …
“There are so many different situations right now, and it’s so scary for people. We have an opportunity to help. We have to look at it that way instead of being fearful. We need to think about the position that God’s put us in and take advantage of that.”