As a high-octane prelude to the nation’s most patriotic Memorial Day weekend celebration, Coca-Cola Racing Family driver and 2022 NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano continued Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Mission 600 tour with sailors at Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval station, on Wednesday.
Logano, alongside Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter and NASCAR Salutes ambassador Jesse Iwuji, toured the expansive USS Nitze destroyer, which just last month returned from an eight-month deployment where its missions included deconflicting air space for the President of the United States during a United Nations conference and completing numerous visit, board, search, and seizure operations, resulting in the seizure of an estimated $43 million of illegal narcotics.
During the visit, Logano met with commanding officers and the crew, toured the ship’s bridge and aft missle deck, and served chow to sailors. Following the tour, Logano participated in a ship handling trainer simulation, which gave the veteran driver an in-depth education in maneuvering a warship at sea.
“This has been an incredible experience, to meet the men and women that serve our country,” Logano said. “I love that we do this as a sport – Mission 600. Every week we do this; today was my turn and I was pretty excited about coming here and meeting the people. It’s amazing to see the ships and what their capabilities are, but meeting the men and women that are actually doing the work and making the commitment for us… Memorial Day Weekend is really a great time to show that appreciation that we should be showing every single day. I wish everyone had the opportunity I have today to see this stuff up close and personal.”
Capt. Katie Jacobson, the commanding officer of the USS Nitze, hosted the visit, presenting Logano with a USS Nitze hat and an American flag that flew on the ship to commemorate his visit.
“It was great to get to interact with them, chat with them and give them a taste of what being on a destroyer is like,” Jacobson said. “We talked about our deployment. They got to see inside the skin of the ship, how we interact. We have about 320 sailors on board right now. That’s my pit crew. While I’m the captain and represent the ship, it’s really the crew that makes it all happen… I’m super proud of the crew, and it’s always a wonderful opportunity to show them off and show the ship off.”
Mission 600 serves as a prelude to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s patriotic pre-race salute to the troops prior to the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend. With representation from all six branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the salute embodies the patriotism and service of the nation’s men and women in uniform.
“The Coca-Cola 600 being on the eve of Memorial Day, it’s a nice reminder to be able to bring the stars of our sport out so they can actually see what the military does each and every day – that sense of team, that sense of service, that sense of duty – the same characteristics that make for a successful race team,” Walter said. “When we bring these drivers out for Mission 600, it’s really cool to see them kind of rethink things. They’ll see the military there during pre-race, but to be able to interact with these sailors like Joey did, it’s a unique connection point for our sport to the military.”
Tickets are still available for the May 26-28 Coca-Cola 600 weekend, with three-day packages starting at $99. Weekend tickets for children ages 12 and under are just $10. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Admission to Circle K Speed Street concerts by AC/DC tribute bank Dirty Deeds (Friday) and Jake Owen (Saturday) is free with any race ticket. Sunday’s pre-race concert by The Doobie Brothers is free with purchase of a Coca-Cola 600 race ticket.