DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Some people dream of being able to experience NASCAR up close, but how many can actually say they got the chance to do it? That is exactly what the Airmen from Dover Air Force Base, Del., got to do as honorary pit crew members during NASCAR race events at Dover International Speedway May 31- June 2.
The honorary pit crew program is a way to let military members interact with the NASCAR drivers. It also shows the support NASCAR has for the military.
Justin Allgaier, #31 car driver in the Nationwide Series race, said the military is the reason the drivers are able to do what they love. He thinks it has been said many times, but the military and racing go hand-in-hand. He said NASCAR is all about teamwork which is the same as the military. "We can't thank them enough for the work they do for our country and for all of us," said Allgaier. "We love having them come out and be a part of the race. It is just cool to let them see our side of the teamwork and obviously for us to see their side of the teamwork as well." The honorary pit crew members got to do many things such as stand with the driver and the crew on pit row during the National Anthem, sit in the pit box with the crew chiefs to watch the race and listen to the scanners of what they were saying to the drivers, and push the cars onto pit row for qualification. They also got to attend the drivers' meeting and sit in the hauler and talk to the drivers.
One of the drivers that honorary pit crew members served with was Jennifer Jo Cobb. She was the driver for the #10 truck in the Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 May 31, 2013. Airman 1st Class Kayla Russell, 9th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, said she grew up watching NASCAR and it was a wonderful opportunity to be involved first hand with a driver from NASCAR, specifically one who supports women in the military. She said it got her more involved in the race. "It is one thing to just get a pit pass, but this way I actually got to be involved with the driver and the crew and do things I don't normally get to do," said Russell. "My driver was a big supporter of the military and she was gracious enough to let us interact with her and this was another way to show they support us." Another driver that had honorary pit crew members was Nelson Piquet Jr. He drove the #30 car in the Nationwide Series race June 1, 2013. Senior Airman Jordan Young, 9th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, said he never really followed NASCAR much before so it was a new experience for him, and he enjoyed it a lot.
"I think it is just a way of giving something to the Airmen a positive thing and morale," said Young. Airman 1st Class Monica Lambertsen, 436th Dental Squadron dental assistant, said it is an opportunity Airmen probably will not get. She said it is a different outlook when a person is actually in the pit than in the stands. "I believe the point of getting the chance to be an honorary pit crew member was to really get everyone to see what they really do not just fix all the stuff," said Lambertsen. "It was also a way to show that they really appreciate our service. It was pretty good experience overall if I had the chance I would do it again."