RENO, Nevada – Each year Panther Racing’s relationship with the National Guard and its Soldiers becomes stronger, and each year, team owner John Barnes strives to find ways in which to better serve his team’s primary partner. In 2012 the team united with the US Chamber of Commerce and the White House in an effort to help fight the unemployment crisis facing our returning Guardsmen. The result was an at-track employment program at each domestic IndyCar race, and the team’s participation in Boss Lifts – a similar program to the team’s at-track effort that reaches out to states that do not host IndyCar Series events.

As the team was in Reno prior to the last race of the season for the Guard’s annual NGAUS conference, Barnes was honored for his contributions with the Patrick Henry Award, the civilian counterpart to the NGAUS Distinguished Service Medal. The award brings recognition to local officials and service leaders, who in a position of great responsibility distinguish themselves with outstanding and exceptional service to the Armed Forces of the United States.

“The Guard sponsors (Panther Racing), but the relationship is unique in professional motorsports,” Major General Francis Vavla, who presented Barnes with the award, told the crowd. “The Guard is more than a sponsor to Panther Racing; it’s a passion. Panther Racing not only provides increased awareness of the National Guard; it shares helmet technology, helps tell the Guard story, and is now assisting with efforts to find civilian employment for Guardsmen.”

MG Valva shared with those in the audience what Panther has been doing with its Boss Lift program, which was in action and on display for those attending the Reno conference.

“(Panther) brought a special two-seat IndyCar to Reno and hosted a special Boss Lift program that supports the Hiring Our Heroes program. More than 50 corporate executives learned the value and attributes of the Guard employees while being treated to a ride that they won’t soon forget.”

Despite a display case in his office that continues to fill with honors and awards from the Guard, Barnes remains humble. He deflects the attention directly to the team at Panther who help accomplish the massive yearlong undertaking. But those who know him well know that it’s Barnes who is the driving force behind all of Panther’s efforts with the National Guard.

His commitment has not gone unnoticed.

“The National Guard is fortunate,” MG Vavla concluded. “To have John Barnes and Panther Racing at the wheel.”