Just 10 days before the before Charlotte Motor Speedway kicks off Memorial Day Weekend with three straight days of action-packed racing, the speedway hosted Aric Almirola for its final Mission 600 visit of the season, a day with Marines from the 2D LAR (Light Armor Reconnaissance) Battalion at Camp Lejeune.
Mission 600 is a campaign that pairs NASCAR drivers with military bases, designed to educate the NASCAR community about the day-to-day lives of the men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and to build meaningful connections between the worlds of motorsports and the military.
Almirola, along with Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter, flew in an MV-22 Osprey, participated in a tire-changing demonstration, learned about a variety of weapons systems and fired an M242 Bushmaster from an LAV (Light Armored Vehicle). Almirola also served lunch to dozens of Marines, courtesy of Smithfield.
“Such a humbling experience for me to come and spend time with all these men and women,” Almirola said. “They volunteer to keep our country free, and they get up every morning and go to work with one objective – to make sure that me and you walk out of our front door every morning and that we’re safe. And it is amazing to have this opportunity and come spend the day with them and to show them our appreciation.”
The LAR battalion performs combined arms reconnaissance and security missions in support of the ground combat element. Its mission is to conduct reconnaissance; security and economy of force operations; and, within its capabilities, limited offensive or defensive operations that exploit the unit’s mobility and firepower.
“What’s really cool is this the appreciation that the Marines have and understanding where they came from,” Walter said. “And then there was this appreciation of just the smiles. You have athletes like Aric out here. Everyone’s in peak condition. Everyone’s training to be their best, both with their equipment as well as personally. And to see those conversations happening is exactly what we want from Mission 600.”
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.
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.