The Charlotte Coca-Cola 600 (May 26) was my first NASCAR event. It was also the first time that the Firefighter Combat Challenge® visited a motor-sports event. I have to admit that I approached this venue with some degree of aloofness. Sharing 2,000 acres of real estate with about 250,000 somewhat inebriated rednecks was not exactly my first choice for the Memorial Day weekend. But, our presenting sponsor, LiftMaster (the garage door opener/control people) were paying and the prospects of large crowds were enticing.
We were staged just outside of Gate 16 on a nearly perfectly flat asphalt pad that had been used in prior years by Dodge as well as some errant donut burners- as evidenced by the black burnouts decorating the pavement. The weather was spectacular and the crowds enthusiastic. Pit crews from some of the race cars participated in our event, as did a team of Wounded Warriors who were playing in a softball tournament on Memorial Day.
A foreboding sense of what awaited us inside as the cars were running tune-up laps only a few hundred meters away. Already the noise levels were permeating the ambiance of our competition- not that we don't create our own cacophony, but not like being on the approach glide path of incoming F-15s.
|View of a NASCAR Car Hauler and Support Trailer|
We caught the History 300 on the 25th; but the big event, NASCAR’s longest race turned out to be a real treat. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force, 3 Medal of Honorees, Chairman of the Coca-Cola Board, the 82nd Airborne Chorus, LtCol Oliver North, Governors, Senators, Congressman, were all on the dais. I’m still attempting to rap my head around the notion of the Duck Dynasty “Star” giving the invocation.
Robin Meade did a great job with the National Anthem. Some 70 y.o. airframes - P-51 Mustangs did a fly over. And the biggest US flag you’ve ever seen was unfurled.
The events of the weekend culminated with some great races and we retired to the Luxury Skybox Suite of LiftMaster- a great place from which to watch the action in air-conditioned comfort. But the best part was the HOT pass and the time in the pits.
Here’s a video link to give you an idea of the excitement. I sat in upper level of the Cart and watched the “physiology” of the #1 car. All of this was absolutely fascinating.
|The view of the Coca-Cola 600 from the LiftMaster Skybox|
|The #1 Car’s “Physiology” is monitored remotely by computer|