The Space Force Has a Sponsored IndyCar -- But Its First 500 Was a Bust

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(U.S. Space Force)

"Well, today did not go as planned," Indy driver Ed Carpenter tweeted Aug. 23. "Some days just aren't meant to be, but what an honor to represent such a great institution."

Both quotes are understatements.

Carpenter was talking about the sponsor of his No. 20 IndyCar, the United States Space Force. And the day didn't go well because he lost the race at pretty much the first turn, finishing in 26th place.

His all-black racer qualified for the event, which was notable for a number of reasons. First, the race is usually held on or around Memorial Day, but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it was postponed until the end of August. For the same reason, it was held without spectators.

Secondly, the race was significant because it was the first time the newest branch of the U.S. military, the Space Force, sponsored a qualifying vehicle. Carpenter set a four-lap average of 230 miles per hour, getting the starting position of 16, inside track, row 6.

Unfortunately, a lot went wrong for Carpenter, as he alluded to in his post-race tweet. He hit the wall in the south short chute and had to repair the car's suspension. His tweet was correct: It was not meant to be. He and the car never recovered from the early hit.

Ed Carpenter Racing was also fielding the U.S. Air Force-sponsored No. 47 car, driven by Conor Daly. Daly finished slightly behind Carpenter and the Space Force at 29th, driving a Chevy that sported the colors of the Air Force's Bell X-1 supersonic jet aircraft.

It was a Bell X-1 named "Glamorous Glennis" that Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager flew to break the sound barrier for the first time in 1947.

As for Carpenter's Space Force car, the blacked-out Chevy featured the service's delta symbol, long used by the U.S. Air Force's Space Command, along with the new Space Force motto, Semper Supra or "Always Above."

"The partnership gives the U.S. Space Force the ability to reach a large number of prospects and influencers through the far-reaching broadcast viewership and media coverage both for and leading up to the race," said Maj. Jason Wyche, chief of the Air Force and Space Force Recruiting National Events Marketing Branch, in a statement.

Carpenter, 39, has never won the Indy 500, although he has qualified on pole position three times in his career. In 2018, he qualified at pole but finished in second place behind racer Will Power.

Daly has been racing with the Air Force car for three years, and there's no reason to believe he won't do the same in 2021. Considering the support Ed Carpenter Racing currently gets from the Air Force, there's no reason the Space Force won't continue its support either.

-- Blake Stilwell can be reached at blake.stilwell@military.com. He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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