Blaine Perkins will make his third start of his part-time 2021 Xfinity Series campaign this weekend in Martinsville, but the start will have a much greater meaning thanks to a special helmet.
The 21-year-old driver will wear a helmet that was designed by 13-year-old Chrisitan of Fort Lawn, South Carolina.
The design features a number of hand-drawn pictures from Christain. From a black Camaro with Baby Yoda and Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy to a yellow ribbon symbolizing Childhood Cancer Awareness – the team at Off Axis Paint brought Christian’s idea to life.
However, the helmet has a much more significant story behind it. Christian was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney Cancer in July of 2020. At the time of the diagnosis, the Kidney Cancer had spread to his vena cava and his lungs. The vena cava is a significant vein that helps to carry blood to the heart from other parts of the human body. On top of that, Christian had a tumor that resulted in his right kidney being removed. He spent the next few months going through multiple rounds of radiation and chemotherapy to help with his condition.
Through the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, the Truex Management Group got in touch with Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital, which introduced Christian to TMG in early March. He got to participate in a video call with the Perkins and was offered the chance to design his helmet for his first trip to Martinsville in the Xfinity Series.
Then, on March 22, during his time designing the helmet, Christian received incredible news. His latest scans came back clear, and he was officially deemed cancer-free.
Thanks to Truex Management Group, Off Axis Paint, and the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation along with Sherry Strong, Christian’s vision is becoming a reality.
“To be chosen to design a race helmet that represents pediatric cancer means the world to me and I did not take this assignment lightly,” Christian said. “After virtually meeting the race car driver, Blaine, who was going to be wearing the helmet, (he’s a really cool guy by the way) I was on a mission to speak for all us kids out here fighting for our lives every day against this mean beast. Having to go through some really tough times hasn’t been easy but just like the characters Groot and Baby Yoda zooming through life in their race car on the helmet, nothing gets us down for long and we keep fighting. That’s why cancer fears us!”
Perkins, who has two starts in 2021 at Phoenix and Atlanta, finished a best of 24th in his debut. He’ll look to better the result with some extra motivation thanks to the helmet.
“It’s truly an honor to wear my helmet, representing Christian through his artwork, his battle with Cancer, and ultimately his defeat against it,” Perkins said. “This kid is the true definition of a Champion! Every time I strap into my car and put my helmet on, his art is just the reminder I need before a race..that all battles can be won through sacrifice, hard work, perseverance, and faith.”
To make the deal even sweeter, Perkins will wear this helmet for the remainder of his 2021 schedule in the Xfinity Series. Currently, the California driver is slated for five more starts including this weekend in Martinsville. He’s expected to race at Circuit of the Americas in May, Pocono in June, Daytona in August, and Las Vegas in September.
The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, along with Sherry Strong, have been advocates to help support underfunded cancer initiatives specific to ovarian and childhood cancers, and assist the individuals and families affected by them.
“Christian, who had just finished his last round of chemo weeks before our first Zoom call in early March, was so full of life and energy,” said Jessica O’Brien of the Truex Management Group. “He had so many questions for Blaine and took his new task of designing Blaine’s helmet very seriously. I know his battle hasn’t been easy, but he stayed strong, cancer truly should fear him, because, after 8 months of radiation and chemo, he is finally cancer-free! His talent, outlook on life, witty personality, and infectious smile are an inspiration to us all. It’s been an honor to be a small part of this project and I can’t wait to see Christian’s helmet come to life at Martinsville Speedway on Friday night.”
While Off Axis Paint is always handling the designs of helmets for drivers and their sponsors, it’s designed like these that hold a special meaning to owner Greg Stumpff.
“I always get excited when I get called to be a part of a project like this just because of how much joy it brings to everyone involved,” said Greg Stumpff of Off Axis Paint. “It was awesome to bring in someone like Christian to help with the ideas and renderings. He’s a lifelong member of the design team here now!”
Perkins will hit the track with his fresh helmet, and his No. 23 Raceline Camaro on Friday, April 9th at 7:30 PM EST on FOX Sports 1 and the FOX Sports app.