There have been few more special moments in my life than when my personal, professional and aspirational passions — and realities — came together last Sunday morning, October 2nd, 2016. On this day Bryant Group Motorsports (which I created to give birth and life to my deepening engagement in my chosen sport — motorsports) unveiled my new and limited edition Ford Shelby GT350R at Caffeine & Octane.
Caffeine & Octane is today the largest car show in North America, with close to 2,000 cars and 15,000 visitors every month, and the “R” as I like to call it, is Chassis #75 of a reported 135 Ford Shelby GT350R’s to be made for 2017.
My friend Henry Ford III of Ford Performance, fresh off a 2nd place win for the Ford Performance Ford GT car at Petit LeMans at Road Atlanta, joined me on the morning of October 2nd to unveil my new R track car — complete with a #FinancialLiteracy custom livery inspired directly by the amazing work of Operation HOPE.
Operation HOPE is a global nonprofit organization — and the country’s first nonprofit financial services network for the poor and underserved in the county — which I founded following the Rodney King Riots of 1992 in South Los Angeles. HOPE has directed more than $2 billion into inner city and underserved communities, has more than 2.6 million clients and 30,000 volunteers.
The day was incredible special, the crowd could not have better or more engaged, and I could not be more thankful for all those who lent a hand to make this special day possible. Let me begin with Henry Ford III, who has committed himself to working with me and Bryant Group Motorsports Academy, a new nonprofit organization that will be focused on inspiring, exposing and empowering young people with what we call their ‘Identity Project.’ Once a young person from an underserved community figures out what their ‘Identity Project’ is, there is not much in life that can stop them.
We believe that motorsports, which is connected to financial literacy and STEM (and physics), can open the door to untold, untapped opportunity, and could inspire a re-imagination of self for a generation of young people.
Of special joy to me, I loved that the car was the star of the show on this day, and not me. And without question, the R was the admired star of the day in the Bryant family.
You can see some of the amazing photos of the day here at the Bryant Group Motorsports Facebook Page, and a special thank you to Jamie Nelson of Operation HOPE who took many of these amazing photos.
Henry Ford III even signed the dashboard of the car before the day was over.
A special thank you to Charmela Freeman, SirJames Buchanon, Rachael Doff, Jena Roscoe, Dr. Anita Ward, Mary Hagerty-Ehrsam and Arlet Shirvanian of Operation HOPE, Cal Ross, Trevor Travers and David Trip representing Bryant Group Motorsports, Bruce Piefke of Caffeine & Octane, Ed Coughlin who produced a special television show associated with Caffeine & Octane for Velocity TV, that will feature the R and our work the community, Mark Hicks, General Manager and Scott Bartlett of Chin Motorsports, Mike McConville of Magnum Collision, Tony Marzullo of Gas Motors, Jeremy Porter of Atlanta Motorsports Park, legendary race car driver Doc Bundy, and my wife Mrs. Natasha Bryant, who first turned the light on in my brain about motorsports and me. The brilliant livery was designed and executed by David Plumlee of David Designs.
A final thank you to Tim Duerr of Ford Performance and the entire team at Ford Performance in Detroit, MI.
John Hope Bryant