Double Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip announced this afternoon he will run the Las Vegas Marathon on January 30, 2005, and has made a commitment to raise $1 million benefiting Victory Junction Gang Camp in an effort called "Operation Marathon, Going the Distance for Kids."

Additionally, Waltrip has teamed up with Devine Racing in a five-year agreement to support Operation Marathon. For every person who signs up to run in this year's Las Vegas Marathon, Devine Racing will donate $10 to the cause. Over the next three years, the company is committed to spending $2.3 million in advertising and public relations to promote the Las Vegas Marathon and Operation Marathon.

According to Waltrip, Operation Marathon stemmed from a desire to help with the operating costs of Kyle and Pattie Petty's newly opened Victory Junction Gang Camp in honour of their late son, Adam Petty. Operation Marathon is an avenue for people to donate money to the camp.

"I was talking with Kyle one day and he told me how much it was going to cost to maintain the camp," reflected Waltrip. "I knew then that I wanted to help because I felt it was important for people to know it will take a long term commitment, a marathon of giving, for this camp to continue working for these children. Kyle and friends have done such a great job raising all the money to build the camp, but it's going to take a real commitment from the entire racing community to maintain the camp.

"Through Operation Marathon we want to draw attention to the fact that it's going to cost two or three million dollars in operating expenses if the kids are there year round. The donations need to continue rolling in.

"I realize that $1 million is a lofty goal, but so is running 26 plus miles. Making a commitment to run that far pushes my limits, and in turn I want to push the limits of NASCAR fans, my corporate sponsors and running enthusiasts across the country by asking them to contribute to this cause.

"With the amazing fan base that NASCAR has, we can do this," continued Waltrip. "We're going to need the masses to pitch in $10 at a time in order to accomplish our goal."

Fans can contribute to Operation Marathon by logging onto or calling 1-866-WALTRIP. All the information needed to get involved with the marathon, or to simply donate, can be found on the website.

Waltrip offers several ways for fans to get involved including entering the marathon or the 5k Run/Walk on Saturday, January 29th, 2005. The 3.1-mile race has designated Operation Marathon as the Presenting Sponsor and will be followed by an autograph session with Waltrip.

Devine Racing L.L.C., created in 2003 to acquire and oversee amateur athletic events, particularly marathons, has a goal of building events and taking them to the next level. The firm purchased the Las Vegas Marathon in June of this year.

The 39th Annual Las Vegas Marathon is expected to draw more than 10,000 racers, many of them International Elite runners. This year's prize money will be in excess of $100,000.

"Michael Waltrip will be a huge magnet for the Las Vegas Marathon," said Chris Devine, Chairman of Devine Racing. "We so respect his commitment to train for our marathon in his precious off time. It's a lot for him to give. And, as a result of our pride in his commitment, we are going to donate $10 for every Las Vegas Marathon race entry to Operation Marathon.

"Marathon runners and NASCAR drivers are all precision athletes. The endurance factor is incredible for both sports, and we want NASCAR fans to come to Las Vegas and see just what it takes to run a 26.2-mile course. They're going to come away with tremendous respect for Michael Waltrip and every other runner in the pack. It's all a great personal experience and a great way to raise money for the Victory Junction Gang," he continued.

The Victory Junction Gang Camp, named Proud Charity of the Las Vegas Marathon, was founded to enrich the lives of children with chronic illnesses by creating camping experiences that are exciting, fun, physically safe and medically sound.

"So many people have gone to great lengths to make this camp happen," said Kyle Petty. "It is special to have guys like Michael (Waltrip) and Chris (Devine) make commitments like this. Michael lived with us for a while, and he knew Adam (Petty). To come out and want to help maintain the camp and to keep that goal alive is pretty cool.

"Michael is going to try to put me in training. I'm going to run along behind him and give him water. I may be on a golf cart or something like that, but I'll be there for him because I think this is incredible. I ran a half-marathon in January and I told him I was inspired by his will to just get out and do something. To be able to do this for Victory Junction is huge for us (for me and Pattie and Austin and Montgomery Lee) personally as well.

"We may have come up with the idea for the camp and kind of got the ball rolling," Petty continued, "but it's not our camp. It's everyone's camp. Michael and Buffy (Waltrip) make it their camp when they lend their support and I challenge all of you to make it your camp. That's the part for me that is more special than anything else, because I think that reflects Adam's personality - bringing people together."

The Michael and Buffy Waltrip Charitable Fund, is a component fund of The Winston-Salem Foundation, a non-profit 501 (C)(3). The fund has been established to be the keystone of Operation Marathon and will support all of the Waltrips' good works and charitable causes. Monies received through Operation Marathon will be distributed to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.