Soldiers, Race Team Swap Roles


EDINBURGH, Ind. -- As the saying goes, to really understand someone, walk a mile their shoes. That was the idea underlying a crew swap between Soldiers at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., and the Cruz Pedregon Racing team, of the National Hotrod Racing Association.

Members of Cruz Pedregon Racing travelled to Camp Atterbury, Aug. 24, to experience some of the activities of military life. In exchange, a group of Soldiers were guests of Cruz Pedregon at the National Hot Rod Association U.S. National drag races at Lucas Oil Raceway Park, Indianapolis, Aug. 31.

While at Camp Atterbury the race team toured installation facilities, received instruction in rappelling, ate at the dining facility with troops and participated in some of the same simulations that troops participate in while preparing for deployment. In addition, Cruz Pedregon signed autographs and met with Soldiers at Camp Atterbury's USO.

"It was great coming to Camp Atterbury to show our support for the troops," said Cruz Pedregon, owner and driver for Cruz Pedregon Racing. "This has been very educational for my team. We were able to come out here and show them the teamwork involved between the Soldiers. It was great being able to interact with the troops."

The exchange was brought about by Snap-on Tools as part of their military outreach program.

"We do not get to do this kind of thing very often," said Jon Rucker, military program manager for Snap-on Tools. "We wanted the crew to experience what Soldiers go through. Then we brought the troops accompanying us to the pits at Raceway Park so they can see what the crew does."

Rucker said teamwork is something that Soldiers and an NRHA pit crew have in common.

"There are specific roles in a pit crew just as there are specialties in the military, but teamwork weaves everything together," he said. "We got to see that when visiting Camp Atterbury and they were able to witness everything that goes in to putting a Funny Car on the track when they were at the pits."

One of the activities the race crew participated in was rappelling from Camp Atterbury's newly-constructed rappel tower.

"They were very excited to learn," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Chenault. "They were also interested in more advanced rappelling techniques; not just Swiss-seat. A few volunteered to go Aussie-style, head first off the tower."

Chenault said the race crew was first given demonstrations of the rappelling techniques to allay any apprehension associated with heights.

"They were a little nervous at first," he said. "But at the end, they thanked us and said they had fun and looked forward to seeing us at the track."

"I was terrified at first, but it was fun after going over the edge," said Stacy Eads, team manager for Cruz Pedregon Racing. "I don't care for heights."

Eads said the exchange was a good way to show appreciation for troops.

"I think it's good to show our guys what the military does and bring them to our side and show them what a pit crew does," she said.

In addition to the rappel tower, the racing team toured the Medical Simulation Training Center, where they learned about the medical training deploying Soldiers receive. The crew also learned how to apply tourniquets.

Accompanying the pit crew on the installation tour were 15 Soldiers from Camp Atterbury. The same Soldiers were later guests in the pits during qualifications, Aug. 31 at the NHRA U.S. Nationals.

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